Multiple Authors Detection: A Quantitative Analysis of Dream of the Red Chamber

19 Dec 2014  ·  Xianfeng Hu, Yang Wang, Qiang Wu ·

Inspired by the authorship controversy of Dream of the Red Chamber and the application of machine learning in the study of literary stylometry, we develop a rigorous new method for the mathematical analysis of authorship by testing for a so-called chrono-divide in writing styles. Our method incorporates some of the latest advances in the study of authorship attribution, particularly techniques from support vector machines. By introducing the notion of relative frequency as a feature ranking metric our method proves to be highly effective and robust. Applying our method to the Cheng-Gao version of Dream of the Red Chamber has led to convincing if not irrefutable evidence that the first $80$ chapters and the last $40$ chapters of the book were written by two different authors. Furthermore, our analysis has unexpectedly provided strong support to the hypothesis that Chapter 67 was not the work of Cao Xueqin either. We have also tested our method to the other three Great Classical Novels in Chinese. As expected no chrono-divides have been found. This provides further evidence of the robustness of our method.

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