Network Graphs

The Digital Platform currently provides network graphs generated with the open-source software Gephi for each of the index headings of the 1827 Index and the PNR, which are accessible from the Indexes page. More information about Gephi, as well as links to download the software can be found at Please see the User Guide for information on how to access and navigate the graphs.

You can also view all of the cross-references in the Zibaldone as a single network graph: 1) select the pre-rendered Gephi file (.gephi) if you have Gephi installed and would like to quickly see a network map of the references; 2) select this CSV edge file (.CSV) if you would like to manipulate or generate new network maps in Gephi or other network graphing software; 3) you may also view the graph with the online graph viewer (note that this may take some time to load).


Below is a sample of statistical charts combining the chronology of the fragments and their thematic interrelations.

Number of dated entries per month and year
Themes by month
PNR Index related themes


The lyric poet, when inspired, the philosopher in the sublimity of speculation […] sees and looks at things as though from a high place, higher than that which the mind of man normally occupies. Hence, in discovering all at once many more things than he would ordinarily be accustomed to notice at one time, and in discerning and seeing at a single glance a multitude of objects, each of which he has seen individually on many occasions but never all together (apart from in similar circumstances), along with them he is able to see all their reciprocal relations, and as a result of the novelty of this multitude of objects that presents itself to him all together, he is led to consider these objects, albeit fleetingly, better than he has done before this time, and better than he is used to doing, and to want to look at and note these relationships. -- Giacomo Leopardi, Zibaldone, pp.3269-70 (Eds. Caesar and D'Intino, 2013). 

The Zibaldone is a text that embodies and reflects on the process of interpretation, in which the cognitive capacity to visualize the relationships between observed phenomena plays a significant knowledge-generating function. The flash-like perception of how numerous heterogeneous phenomena are interrelated all at once, which Leopardi describes in Zibaldone pp.3269-70 above, is conditioned by the close attention paid to these phenomena in an incremental fashion over time; however, this overview of their system of relations and the privileged comprehension it imparts cannot be gained intentionally through analytical reasoning—“by means of long, patient, and painstaking research, experience, comparisons, studies, reasoning, meditations, exercise of the mind, the intellect, the faculty of thinking, reflecting, observing, reasoning” (Zib. 3270). Moreover, it is fleeting and its transmission is contingent on the extent to which it is “clearly and distinctly present before [the writer]” (Zib. 3271). Many Zibaldone fragments, with their compound syntactic scaffolding of numerous relative clauses, enumeration of synonyms, and additions crowding the space in the margin and between the lines, attempt to register the many facets of this kind of synoptic mental images before they dissipate from memory, whereas cross-references and index tags jot their connecting dots across the vast tableau of the manuscript. The automated computational harvesting of Leopardi’s records of semantic analysis of the fragments could generate a simulation of the synthesizing grasping of the mind by presenting the semantic structure of their associations as a diagrammatic configuration which can then be explored at will. This aggregative function of visualization would similarly be applied to the reader's own interpretative annotations on the text and should give direct access to the text of each fragment, so that the resulting relational framework could be reviewed and re-defined. The visualization could also serve as mediatic support for recording the interpretation prompted by its overview and allow readers to reconfigure its nodes and edges. The mediation of visualization thus is not simply instrumental in activating Leopardi's dialectics of close and distant reading of phenomena, but becomes constitutive of their interpretative discourse. By creating discursive forms that perform rather than describe their connecting threads, the methods of computational reading and graphical organization of the discrete elements of close analysis could furthermore put into practice Leopardi’s aesthetic principle of composing the unity of discourse free of the "affectation" of "manifest authorial intention" (Zib. 52, 100).

Semantic visualization methods can add a range of navigational, explorative, structuring, hermeneutical and discursive functions to the Digital Platform to support the semantic articulation of the Zibaldone fragments and the reconstruction of their intertextual matrix. The thematic connections established between the fragments by cross-references and index headings often chart such convoluted paths through the text’s stratified fabric that they necessitate diagrammatic rendering and the dimensional space of the digital medium for readers to be able to follow and make sense of them. The visualization of these interrelations as relational network graphs could expose the structure of how the fragments are connected at various levels of semantic granularity. An already active function of the Platform is the organization of those fragments listed under the same heading from the 1827 Index or treatise title from the PNR as a network graph generated by their additional shared themes. These networks could be expanded to include any cross-references among the listed fragments, the text of the fragments, and interactive features allowing readers to add, subtract, and qualify network relations and to record their interpretation. Each fragment’s comprehensive network of relations could also be traced through its chains of references and thematic clusters and organized from the perspective of that fragment. Similarly, the search results of keywords could be structured as a network graph, according to their thematic frequencies and cross-referential framework. The entire text of the Zibaldone could be navigated as a dimensional discourse field with intersecting thematic areas, connected by bridges of cross-references indicating their relations of subordination or parallelism, of synonymy, antinomy, hypernymy, etc., populated by content elements, such as persons, places, timestamps, referenced intertexts, each of which could be activated or kept in the background.  

Visualizations could be used to combine any given element of the encoding of the text to construct interpretative frameworks that build upon and beyond the relationality explicitly indicated by Leopardi. The percentage of quotes and bibliographical references of the text can be presented as a chart, to which additional content elements could be added for a more comprehensive overview of the Zibaldone’s intertextuality, such as a thematic map of the areas with high proportion of quotes and bibliographic references, or a map with the time period, genre, author, country, etc. of the referenced works. The processual composition of the text could be animated with dynamic timelines to show the themes on which the author dwells extensively or repeatedly by displaying the interweaving threads of the index themes along the text’s chronological unfolding, by representing the temporal distance between referenced fragments and the temporal direction of the links in the distribution of their relational networks, by visualizing dynamically and spatially the incremental development of an argument from its syntactic additions to its cross-references and thematic networks. The functions of the additions could be encoded and included in the visualization to show whether they are supporting, expanding, contradicting, or transposing the argument to a new context. Visualizations can outline the logical procedures that relate one concept to another and by means of which mediating concepts, how a concept gains semantic agency—accrues new meanings, reverses from a positive to a negative connotation and vice versa. In sum, visualizations can correlate, structure and perform a series of analytical operations on the text and create an immersive environment, in which to follow its epistemic practices and examine the phenomena it presents through its kaleidoscope of shifting perspectives.