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A social network analysis of Rousseau’s autobiography “Les Confessions”

We propose an analysis of the social network composed of the characters appearing in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's autobiographic Les Confessions, with existence of edges based on co-occurrences. This work consists of twelve volumes, that span over fifty years of his life. Having a unique author allows us to consider the book as a coherent work, unlike some of the historical texts from which networks often get extracted, and to compare the evolution of patterns of characters through the books on a common basis. Les Confessions, considered as one of the first modern autobiographies, has the originality to let us compose a social network close to the reality, only with a bias introduced by the author, that has to be taken into account during the analysis. Hence, with this paper, we discuss the interpretation of networks based on the content of a book as social networks. We also, in a digital humanities approach, discuss the relevance of this object as an historical source and a narrative tool.

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