"It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces."
Bridget Jones might have been grousing melodramatically about her love life, but according to a new study, she and other emotive characters might be a minority in modern British literature.
To find out how the language in our novels has changed over time, researchers from universities in the U.K. and Sweden analyzed the English Google Books database, going back to 1900, for words that carried the feelings of "Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy, Sadness, and Surprise."
Here are just a few of their findings, from a paper in the journal PLOS published today:
- Britain's literature has grown less emotional since the 1960s, but American literature has become more so. Overall, English-language literature has used far fewer emotionally-charged words over time, but American writers have bucked the trend: They've ramped up their use of "mood words" in the past few decades as Brits have grown more stoic.
Overall, the only emotion that's become more prevalent over time is "fear," which has occurred in books much more frequently since the 1970s. Maybe we can thank Stephen King for that.