The Death of the Authors






The Death of the Authors is a generative novel made with Python and nltk, based on texts by Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Rabindranath Tagore, Elizabeth Von Arnim, Sherwood Anderson and Henri Bergson, some of the authors welcomed in the public domain on 1-1-12.

The selection of the texts used for this publication is very much influenced by the availability of works online. Famous authors are easy to find, English works and translations are often available as free e-books, thanks to an initiative such as The Gutenberg Project.

This publication is the first in a series. By creating a new work every year on Public Domain Day, Constant wants to give an incentive in making public works electronically available and rediscovering them.



Every year on New Year's Day, due to the expiration of copyright protection terms on works produced by authors who died seven decades earlier, thousands of works enter the public domain - that is, their content is no longer owned or controlled by anyone, but it rather becomes a common treasure, available for anyone to freely use for any purpose.



Script, Book


Python, ntlk, Print on Demand


The Death of the Authors-1941_2013-12-29_14-42-46


Generate your unique version of the novel.

Source Code

Install Python, nltk. In a folder "1941" (or any other year of death), make folders for the authors of your choice. Each folder can contain as many texts as you can find in the Public Domain; texts should be in .txt format. If you want your publication to contain sources, include a bibliographic reference on the first line of each .txt document. Run from one level above the "1941" folder. The output is a simple .txt-file.

For output in .tex format (ConTeXt), download and run plus header.txt instead. You can easily transform the generated files into pdfs by using $ context *.tex

Source Materials

Sherwood Anderson

  • Marching Men
  • Poor White

Rabindranath Tagore

  • The Home and the World
  • The Hungry Stones & other stories

Virginia Woolf

  • Jacob's Room
  • Mrs Dalloway
  • Night and Day
  • Orlando
  • The Voyage Out
  • To the Lighthouse

Elizabeth von Arnim

  • Elizabeth and her German Garden
  • Vera

Henri Bergson

  • Dreams
  • Laughter and the meaning of the comic
  • The meaning of war

James Joyce

  • Portrait of an artist as a young man
  • Ulysses


Public domain


appropriation, authorship, public domain, remix