Among the thousands of manuscripts held in the National Library of Spain, researchers from the Universities of Valladolid and the University of Vienna rescued a priceless comedy when its authorship was discovered: Lope de Vega.

The play in question is titled french laura, was written in the last years of the life of the famous writer. Machine learning tools played a decisive role in the research led by Alvaro Cuellar and Germán Vega, which involved numerous specialists in the field of Latin American history and philology. No document has ever linked this comedy, preserved in a 17th century manuscript, to Lope de Vega. Until now.

How was authorship discovered? french laura?

The work was decrypted automatically using transcribus, a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to digitize scanned handwritten documents. Like any AI, it needs to learn. And he does this by scanning manuscripts, accompanying them with the correct transcription made by specialists. By reading about 3 million words and identifying the strokes and characteristics of the ancient Castilian language, the AI ​​was able to recognize letters and words autonomously, without the help of an observer. Since the machine was already autonomous and professional, the researchers this time entrusted it with transcription over 2800 plays written during the Golden Agemost brilliant period in the history of universal literature.

In just a few hours, Transkibus coped with the task. Something remarkable, because without their help it would take decades of work and millions of euros in favor of the state. The result is not always perfect, but sufficient to study the text at the next stage: a philological study to establish its possible authorship and date.

This is the result of processing scans of the manuscript by Transkibus. / National Library of Spain

Every writer has their own unique style of writing. Everyone touches on a particular topic with more or less frequency and constantly uses different language means. It’s in the personality of the author. It is almost impossible for a simple reader to count how many pronouns are in a sentence or how many times certain adjectives are mentioned; but not for AI, which is able to detect those patterns that elude us. With this information, he can guess the authorship of the work with more than 99% certainty. Analyzing these thousands of works, french laura It was closely related to the lexical use of the immortal Lope de Vega. Only with him, and not with the other 350 playwrights, from whom he also learned AI.

AI is revolutionizing historical research

Upon learning of the find, the research team, made up mostly of philologists, carried out exhaustive work to see if what the AI ​​had said was true. They studied the metrics of poetry, their orthology, the part of grammar devoted to pronunciation, which was of particular importance in the rhythm of poetry, as well as themes, motifs, structures, ideas, means and ways of self-expression in the Spanish language of that time. until he came to the conclusion that the work fit perfectly with Lope de Vega’s huge theatrical production.

Spain is celebrating, thanks to the possibilities offered by AI, the discovery of a new and authentic comedy by one of its most illustrious sons. These devices were already used in Greek texts such as Plato’s dialogues, which can now be arranged more accurately in chronological order by comparison with the writing style of works we know to refer to his youth or maturity by the ancient events they recount. . They say that AI will take jobs, but at the moment it allows you to create new jobs, making possible for people what was previously impossible for us. AI is our wheel, our pulley and our printing press.

Dialogue from the opera “French Laura” by Lope de Vega.

what tells us french laura It’s a fictional story, but, like so many New Comedies, it has references to real history. From the words of the French monarch, opening the comedy, we can learn that “so many years of so many wars” was left behind at the moment when peace had just been made with England. These “so many years” are numbered in a hundred, if we talk about the conflict in which the two kingdoms clashed, the Hundred Years War.

It can already be read if sight permits by scanning the manuscript and its argumentation in a research article, although it is best to choose the first edition, which will launch the publishing house Gredos soon. Who told us we could get the first release of Lope de Vega’s new comedy?

Source: Hiper Textual

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