First published in 1969, The Novel in Letters is a collection of nine novels in letters, representative of certain tendencies in narrative technique and subject-matter between 1678 and 1740. The editor shows how the narrative attitude of the letter writer, his humorous or sentimental viewpoint, give the events the flavour of personal experience. Motifs such as the arranged betrothal, or the gradual decline of an innocent girl to a common whore thus become more immediate. The increasing importance of the narrator, the use of the point-of-view technique, sentimental analysis, and a new interest in characterisation through direct or indirect self-revelation, all mark the transition from the romance to the ‘realistic novel.’ In the introduction, the editor traces the structure of the epistolary novel back to the sub-literary forms which it most resembles and illustrates how the novel is rooted in journalism and other forms of non-literary writing such as the genuine letter, the diary, autobiography, manuals and didactic literature. There is also an examination of the problem of differentiating between historical reality and literary fiction. This book will be of interest to students and teachers of literature.
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