Concordance to Henry James texts on the Ladder


by Adrian Dover

This concordance indexes all the fiction texts currently available on my Henry James website the Ladder – although occasionally there will be a slight delay between publication of a new text and updating of this concordance. It shows, for each word, the total number of occurrences in these texts and then the texts involved (by two letter codes – the ‘sigla’) with the separate number of occurrences in each. The codes are arranged in chronological order of publication by James, to help track words appearing and disappearing over time. If you can’t remember what title a particular siglum stands for, just hover your mouse-pointer over it and the title and date will appear.

To make the lists manageable, the English and French words in the concordance are divided into pages by the words’ initial letters. For English, the initials appear on the menu (left) and all except the most infrequent letters are further subdivided into pages for chunks of about 150-200 words. For French the initials appear on a selection page (like the sections of English initials). Even so some of the pages are up to 500K in size so you may have to be patient on a slow connection or when the server is busy! There are links top and bottom on each page to the preceding and succeeding pages in the sequence, so you don’t have to keep returning to the menu frame and submenu pages to browse the list.

A few of the most frequent English words are excluded from the concordance through use of a stop word list, as even their numerical distribution is deemed to be of little practical interest. It would be technically possible to exclude similar words in the other languages but the numbers involved are still relatively small and I have left them in, for the time being.

Foreign language words only appear on their respective pages here if they are appropriately coded, mostly shown in the texts by the italic font: a manual effort is required to mark as foreign other words which are not naturalized but which appear in plain font in the sources. This will happen only gradually!

There is a link to each text from its code letters. This will open in a new tab or window on your browser (depending on software and settings). I have not attempted to make the link go directly to the (first) paragraph containing the word, even though this is theoretically possible now that my texts have a ‘textlabel’ paragraph identification. My reasons are that: (1) many words occur more than once in a text, so you would still have to use a ‘Find’ or ‘Find in frame’ option; (2) using ‘Find’ highlights the word, making it easier to spot words in a long paragraph; and (3) technically it would require writing some complicated script to get the frameset correct for you to make use of other features of my edition (for example, you might need to look at the ‘note on the text’ to find out about a spelling choice). Remember that this search might not be able to match special characters such as accented letters and curved apostrophes. The cursor should be positioned in the text frame when the edition loads, but some browsers search for a word in all frames anyway.

I have also to point out that two of the texts follow their source New York edition’s quirk of inserting a space into many contractions, such as “would n’t”. For indexing in the concordance these spaces are stripped out so that for example the texts’ “would n’t” will be counted under the concordance heading “wouldn’t”.

As an alternative to checking the contexts with the links here, you could, having identified the text(s) you are interested in, download the relevant ASCII file(s) and work with it/them (one file per title). Another benefit of that method will be that you can search for the special characters by using their ASCII character representations explained on my editorial page covering downloadable texts. It will also enable you to compile a concordance to a single text or a small set of texts, and to do more complex text analysis, such as proximity searching. A suitable program for these tasks has been written by a former colleague of mine at the University of Birmingham, Alan Reed. Other software is available – try a web search for ‘concordance software’.

Within my concordance, there are separate pages for numbers in figures appearing in the text (spelled-out numbers appear in their alphabetical sequence) and also for James’s fictional names. If you are interested in the latter, don’t forget that you can find further information in published encyclopedias of James’s fiction or characters, such as A Henry James encyclopedia / by Robert L. Gale. – Westport, Conn.; London : Greenwood, 1989. – ISBN 0-313-25846-5; or, Who’s who in Henry James / Glenda Leeming. – London : Elm Tree Books, 1976. – ISBN 0-241-89425-5. Please note that real proper names, for example ‘Byron’ or ‘Paris’, and fictional names not invented by James, for example ‘Hamlet’, are included in the main sequence of the concordance.

Note also that for the time being, words in the stage directions and character directs in the playtexts are included in the concordance.

If you want to look up a lot of words and are not worried about being able to link to the texts from them, you can download a plain text file, either with or without the text-codes, from the separate page of links, then browse that on your own PC (or even, whisper it not, print it out on reams of paper!)

The pages which make up this concordance are generated by another of my natty, home-grown, Perl scripts and are updated shortly after additions are made to the set of texts available here. I’d like to thank Casey Abell and Richard Hathaway for their valuable comments on draft versions of these pages, when I was first developing them in the early years of the century, and Alan Reed (software consultant for the Concordance of Medieval Occitan) for useful discussions about online concordances. Anyone requiring details of the processing, to support academic use of this concordance, is welcome to contact me with specific questions or for the algorithm used.

May 2010

this menu and introduction © 2013
part of a concordance to texts
on the Ladder : a Henry James website