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«As you can see in the text...» Which passages do literary scholars quote and interpret in «Gulliver's Travels»?

«Quotation analysis» as an aid to understanding comprehension processes of longer and difficult texts


Klaus Zöllner

This study explores why certain sections in the literary classic «Gulliver's Travels» are quoted from and interpreted more frequently and extensively than others. It asks in what way such a «quotation analysis» can help to increase our knowledge about literary understanding, especially that of longer and notoriously difficult texts. The study shows that quotations in 74 interpretations of «Gulliver» concentrate on a few passages of the book only, most of which are used to extract and «prove» the structure, topic and overall meaning of the text. On the other hand, the same passages are often considered the most «problematic» ones, Their interpretations very clearly reveal the causes and the range of various possible ways of understanding a text, its «polyvalence» in terms of an Empirical Science of Literature.
Contents: What is «quotation analysis»? - Interpreters' «favourites»: a statistical and qualitative analysis of 19 very important passages (VIPs) in «Gulliver» - What «Gulliver» can be about: possible ways of macrostructuring «Gulliver» - A never-ending debate: the polyvalence structure of a classic.