Searching for the Limbs of Osiris
Whereas the previous chapter focused on one category of word- classes, conjunctions, this chapter has both more general and more specific concerns. In the first part I shall provide some reflections on the principles, assumptions, and methods regarding my use of stylometry. As a consequence of the inv8estigation's experimental and quantitative character, this part will also consist of a series of observations on the nature of quantitative analysis of style, and the status and meaningfulness of its results. In the second part of the chapter I shall draw some general conclusions about the respective styles of Religio Medici, its imitations, and the works of the control group. In the final part I shall focus on Browne's favourite three-word pattern: noun/preposition/noun (e.g. 'hand of God'). This in-depth analysis will reveal the potential of the examination of three-word patterns; it leads to far-reaching conclusions as to one major influence on Browne's prose idiom, the Authorized Version of the Bible.
Stylometry, as I use it, finds its origin in Milic A Quantitative Approach to the Style of Jonathan Swift.1 Thomas N. Corns gloomily summarizes the 'progress' of this approach over the past three decades:
Not only has stylometrics failed to realize the targets once set for it, but also the theoretical basis and the academic modishness of the undertaking have experienced incisive assaults. By 1970 or so, in a peculiarly expansive process, stylistics had become captured by linguistics, and linguistic stylistics partially transmuted into stylometrics. But the approach has probably never recovered a confidence in its theoretical validity since the scathing and deeply damaging attentions of Stanley Fish ( 1980) in 1973 and later.2
It would indeed be foolish to claim that stylometrics as a whole has been highly successful, or to deny the impact of Fish's essay, 'What is____________________