Epistolary Fiction

(3510 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Epistolary fiction is a sub-category of novelistic prose in which a story is told by means of supposedly bona fide private communications made public, often in clandestine or voyeuristic ways. Traditionally, and still most often, epistolary fiction takes the form of fictional letters (epistles) between correspondents who are also characters in the story being told, and who record the action in small increments as it unfolds. In this real-time or “to the moment” style of fragmentary narration (the phrase comes from Samuel Richardson; see below), events are recorded not only as they happen but also from individual points of view; it is up to the reader to put the whole story together from the epistolary fragments. The …

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Bowers, Toni. "Epistolary Fiction". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 July 2009
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=350, accessed 28 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. Novelistic Genres
  2. Literary Genres and Modes