Friday, December 30, 2016

A Simple Measure of Pulp

The following is a quick listing of the reading metrics for the first thousand words of eight different pulp era writers.  The stories were chosen by what I had readily available, filtered for works written in the 1920s-1930s.  Thus Silver John was not used for Manly Wade Wellman, as most of those stories were written in the 1960s. 

Lord Dunsany; "The Bride of the Man Horse"

SMOG: 10.4 grade
Flesch-Kincaid: 10.3 grade
Lexical Density: 43%

Hamilton, Edmund; "The Door into Infinity"

SMOG: 10.4 grade
Flesch-Kincaid: 7.5 grade
Lexical Density: 40%

Hammett, Dashiell; "Night Shade"

SMOG: 6.3 grade
Flesch-Kincaid: 3.8 grade
Lexical Density: 40%

Howard, R. E.; "The Phoenix on the Sword"

SMOG: 10.4 grade
Flesch-Kincaid: 7.5 grade
Lexical Density: 49%

Kuttner, Henry; "The Graveyard Rats"

SMOG: 11.5 grade
Flesch-Kincaid: 9.4 grade
Lexical Density: 47%

Lovecraft, H. P.; "At the Mountains of Madness"

SMOG: 16.7 grade
Flesch-Kincaid: 16.2 grade
Lexical Density: 52%

Merritt, Abraham; The Moon Pool

SMOG: 10.4 grade
Flesch-Kincaid: 8.0 grade
Lexical Density: 48%

Wellman, Manly Wade; "The Half-Haunted"

SMOG: 8.3 grade
Flesch-Kincaid: 4.9 grade
Lexical Density: 48%

I need more samples to really draw true conclusions about the golden age of pulp, much less an individual writer - with the exception of Lovecraft as a striking outlier. There does appear to be two distinct aggregations of language usage in the pulps so far, a 10th grade level at conventional fiction levels of lexical density (content words to grammar words) and a 6th grade level at a less formal, conversational speech level. Perhaps that will hold true as this continues. Right now, however, this is consistent with the writer's observation that fiction is more formal than speech. Perhaps this says more about the English of the time than pulp.

No comments:

Post a Comment