Epistolary novel

Epistolary novel

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An epistolary novel is a novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries
Diary
A diary is a record with discrete entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period. A personal diary may include a person's experiences, and/or thoughts or feelings, including comment on current events outside the writer's direct experience. Someone...

, newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

 clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use. The word epistolary is derived through Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word ἐπιστολή epistolē, meaning a letter (see epistle
Epistle
An epistle is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic letter. The epistle genre of letter-writing was common in ancient Egypt as part of the scribal-school writing curriculum. The letters in the New Testament from Apostles to Christians...

).

The epistolary form can add greater realism
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

 to a story, because it mimics the workings of real life. It is thus able to demonstrate differing points of view without recourse to the device of an omniscient narrator.

Early works


There are two theories on the genesis of the epistolary novel. The first claims that the genre originated from novels with inserted letters, in which the portion containing the third person narrative in between the letters was gradually reduced. The other theory claims that the epistolary novel arose from miscellanies of letters and poetry: some of the letters were tied together into a (mostly amorous) plot. Both claims have some validity. The first truly epistolary novel, the Spanish "Prison of Love" (Cárcel de amor) (c.1485) by Diego de San Pedro, belongs to a tradition of novels in which a large number of inserted letters already dominated the narrative. Other well-known examples of early epistolary novels are closely related to the tradition of letter-books and miscellanies of letters. Within the successive editions of Edmé Boursault
Edmé Boursault
Edmé Boursault was a French dramatist and miscellaneous writer, born at Mussy l'Evéque, now Mussy-sur-Seine ....

's Letters of Respect, Gratitude and Love (Lettres de respect, d'obligation et d 'amour) (1669), a group of letters written to a girl named Babet was expanded and became more and more distinct from the other letters, until it formed a small epistolary novel entitled Letters to Babet (Lettres à Babet). The immensely famous Letters of a Portuguese Nun
Letters of a Portuguese Nun
The Letters of a Portuguese Nun , first published anonymously by Claude Barbin in Paris in 1669, is a work believed by most scholars to be epistolary fiction in the form of five letters written by Gabriel-Joseph de La Vergne, comte de Guilleragues , a minor peer, diplomat, secretary to the Prince...

(Lettres portugaises) (1669) generally attributed to Gabriel-Joseph de La Vergne, comte de Guilleragues, though a small minority still regard Marianna Alcoforado
Marianna Alcoforado
Sóror Mariana Alcoforado , was a Portuguese nun, living in the convent of the Poor Ladies in Beja, Portugal....

 as the author, is claimed to be intended to be part of a miscellany of Guilleragues prose and poetry.
The founder of the epistolary novel in English is said by many to be James Howell (1594–1666) with "Familiar Letters", who writes of prison, foreign adventure, and the love of women.

The first novel to expose the complex play that the genre allows was Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn was a prolific dramatist of the English Restoration and was one of the first English professional female writers. Her writing contributed to the amatory fiction genre of British literature.-Early life:...

's Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister
Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister
Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister by Aphra Behn is a three volume roman à clef playing with events of the Monmouth Rebellion and exploring the genre of the epistolary novel...

 (1684), which appeared in three successive volumes in 1684, 1685, and 1687. The novel shows the genre's results of changing perspectives: individual points were presented by the individual characters, and the central voice of the author and moral evaluation disappeared (at least in the first volume; her further volumes introduced a narrator). Behn furthermore explored a realm of intrigue with letters that fall into the wrong hands, with faked letters, with letters withheld by protagonists, and even more complex interaction.

The epistolary novel as a genre became popular in the 18th century in the works of such authors as Samuel Richardson
Samuel Richardson
Samuel Richardson was an 18th-century English writer and printer. He is best known for his three epistolary novels: Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded , Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady and The History of Sir Charles Grandison...

, with his immensely successful novels Pamela (1740) and Clarissa
Clarissa
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady is an epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson, published in 1748. It tells the tragic story of a heroine whose quest for virtue is continually thwarted by her family, and is the longest real novelA completed work that has been released by a publisher in...

(1749). In France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, there was Lettres persanes (1721) by Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

, followed by Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, or the New Héloïse is an epistolary novel by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, published in 1761 by Marc-Michel Rey in . The original edition was entitled Lettres de deux amans habitans d'une petite ville au pied des Alpes .The novel’s subtitle points to the history of Héloïse d’Argenteuil and Pierre...

(1761) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

, and Laclos
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos was a French novelist, official and army general, best known for writing the epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses ....

' Les Liaisons dangereuses
Les Liaisons dangereuses
Les Liaisons dangereuses is a French epistolary novel by Choderlos de Laclos, first published in four volumes by Durand Neveu from March 23, 1782....

(1782), which used the epistolary form to great dramatic effect, because the sequence of events was not always related directly or explicitly. In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, there was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers
The Sorrows of Young Werther
The Sorrows of Young Werther is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774; a revised edition of the novel was published in 1787...

(1774) (The Sorrows of Young Werther
The Sorrows of Young Werther
The Sorrows of Young Werther is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774; a revised edition of the novel was published in 1787...

) and Friedrich Hölderlin
Friedrich Hölderlin
Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin was a major German lyric poet, commonly associated with the artistic movement known as Romanticism. Hölderlin was also an important thinker in the development of German Idealism, particularly his early association with and philosophical influence on his...

's Hyperion
Hyperion (Hölderlin)
Hyperion is a novel by Friedrich Hölderlin first published in 1797 and 1799 . The full title is Hyperion oder Der Eremit in Griechenland ....

. The first North American novel, The History of Emily Montague (1769) by Frances Brooke
Frances Brooke
Frances Moore Brooke was an English novelist, essayist, playwright and translator.-Biography:Brooke was born in, Claypole, Lincolnshire, the daughter of a clergyman. By the late 1740s, she had moved to London, where she embarked on her career as a poet and playwright...

 was written in epistolary form.

Starting in the 18th century, the epistolary form was subject to much ridicule, resulting in a number of savage burlesques. The most notable example of these was Henry Fielding
Henry Fielding
Henry Fielding was an English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess, and as the author of the novel Tom Jones....

's Shamela (1741), written as a parody of Pamela. In it, the female narrator can be found wielding a pen and scribbling her diary entries under the most dramatic and unlikely of circumstances.

The epistolary novel slowly fell out of use in the late 18th century. Although Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...

 tried her hand at the epistolary in juvenile writings and her novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

 Lady Susan, she abandoned this structure for her later work. It is thought that her lost novel "First Impressions", which was redrafted to become Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England...

, may have been epistolary: Pride and Prejudice contains an unusual number of letters quoted in full and some play a critical role in the plot.

The epistolary form nonetheless saw continued use, surviving in exceptions or in fragments in nineteenth-century novels. In Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

's novel Letters of Two Brides, two women who became friends during their education at a convent correspond over a 17 year period, exchanging letters describing their lives. Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

 employs the epistolary form in her novel Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

 (1818). Shelley uses the letters as one of a variety of framing devices, as the story is presented through the letters of a sea captain and scientific explorer attempting to reach the north pole who encounters Victor Frankenstein and records the dying man's narrative and confessions. In the late 19th century, Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker
Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula...

 released one of the most widely recognized and successful novels in the epistolary form to date, Dracula
Dracula
Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor...

. Printed in 1897, the novel is compiled entirely of letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings, telegrams, doctor's notes, ship's logs, and the like, which Stoker adroitly employs to balance believability and dramatic tension.

Types of epistolary novels


There are three types of epistolary novels: monologic (giving the letters of only one character, like Letters of a Portuguese Nun), dialogic (giving the letters of two characters, like Mme Marie Jeanne Riccoboni
Marie Jeanne Riccoboni
Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni , whose maiden name was Laboras de Mezières, was a French novelist.She was born in Paris in 1714.In 1735 she married Antoine François Riccoboni, a comedian and dramatist, from whom she soon separated...

's Letters of Fanni Butlerd (1757), and polylogic (with three or more letter-writing characters). In addition, a crucial element in polylogic epistolary novels like Clarissa, and Dangerous Liaisons is the dramatic device of 'discrepant awareness': the simultaneous but separate correspondences of the heroines and the villains creating dramatic tension.

Later works


Epistolary novels have made several memorable appearances in more recent literature:
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays. He is best known for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov....

     used the epistolary format for his first novel, Poor Folk
    Poor Folk
    Poor Folk , sometimes translated as Poor People, is the first novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which he wrote over the span of nine months when he was 25 years old. It was originally published on January 15, 1846 in the almanac St...

    (1846), as a series of letters between two friends, struggling to cope with their impoverished circumstances and life in pre-revolution Russia.
  • The Moonstone
    The Moonstone
    The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins is a 19th-century British epistolary novel, generally considered the first detective novel in the English language. The story was originally serialized in Charles Dickens' magazine All the Year Round. The Moonstone and The Woman in White are considered Wilkie...

    (1868) by Wilkie Collins
    Wilkie Collins
    William Wilkie Collins was an English novelist, playwright, and author of short stories. He was very popular during the Victorian era and wrote 30 novels, more than 60 short stories, 14 plays, and over 100 non-fiction pieces...

     uses a collection of various documents to construct a detective novel in English. In the second piece, a character explains that he is writing his portion because another had observed to him that the events surrounding the disappearance of a certain moonstone might reflect poorly on the family, if misunderstood, and therefore he was collecting the true story. This is an unusual element. Most epistolary novels present the documents without questions about how they were gathered. He also used the form previously in The Woman in White
    The Woman in White (novel)
    The Woman in White is an epistolary novel written by Wilkie Collins in 1859, serialized in 1859–1860, and first published in book form in 1860...

    (1859).
  • Spanish foreign minister Juan Valera's Pepita Jimenez (1874) is writing in three sections, with the first and third being a series of letters, while the middle part is a narration by an unknown observer.
  • Jean Webster
    Jean Webster
    Jean Webster was an American writer and author of many books including Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy...

    's Daddy-Long-Legs
    Daddy-Long-Legs (novel)
    Daddy Long-Legs is a 1912 epistolary novel by the American writer Jean Webster. It follows the protagonist, a young girl named Jerusha "Judy" Abbott, through her college years. She writes the letters to her benefactor, a rich man whom she has never seen....

    (1912)
  • Kathrine Taylor
    Kathrine Taylor
    Kathrine Kressmann Taylor or Kressmann Taylor was an American author, known mostly for her Address Unknown , a novel written as a series of letters between a Jewish art dealer, living in San Francisco, and his business partner, who had returned to Germany in 1932...

    's Address Unknown (1938) was an anti-Nazi novel in which the final letter is returned as "Address Unknown", indicating the disappearance of the German character.
  • Bram Stoker
    Bram Stoker
    Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula...

    's Dracula
    Dracula
    Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor...

    (1897) uses not only letters and diaries, but also dictation cylinders
    Phonograph cylinder
    Phonograph cylinders were the earliest commercial medium for recording and reproducing sound. Commonly known simply as "records" in their era of greatest popularity , these cylinder shaped objects had an audio recording engraved on the outside surface which could be reproduced when the cylinder was...

     and newspaper
    Newspaper
    A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

     accounts. While the novel draws on the epistolary form, by the end of the story it reduces it, along with other media, to a monstrous "mass of typewriting".
  • C. S. Lewis
    C. S. Lewis
    Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

     used the epistolary form for The Screwtape Letters
    The Screwtape Letters
    The Screwtape Letters is a satirical Christian apologetics novel written in epistolary style by C. S. Lewis, first published in book form in February 1942...

    (1942), and considered writing a companion novel from an angel
    Angel
    Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

    's point of view—though he never did so. It is less generally realized that his Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
    Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
    Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer is a book by C.S. Lewis posthumously published in 1964. The book takes the form of a series of letters to a fictional friend, "Malcolm", in which Lewis meditates on prayer as an intimate dialogue between man and God...

    (1964) was a similar exercise, exploring theological questions through correspondence addressed to a fictional recipient, "Malcolm", though this work may be considered a "novel" only loosely in that developments in Malcolm's personal life gradually come to light and impact the discussion.
  • Theodore Sturgeon
    Theodore Sturgeon
    Theodore Sturgeon was an American science fiction author.His most famous novel is More Than Human .-Biography:...

    's short novel, Some of Your Blood
    Some of Your Blood
    Some of Your Blood is a short horror novel in epistolary form by Theodore Sturgeon, first published in 1961.-Plot summary:The book opens with a prologue addressed directly to "The Reader," informing the reader of the fictional basis of the novel. The novel presents as a case file of Dr...

    (1961), consists of letters and case-notes relating to the psychiatric treatment of a non-supernatural vampire.
  • Saul Bellow
    Saul Bellow
    Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

    's novel Herzog
    Herzog
    Herzog may refer to:* Herzog , German title of nobility* The surname Herzog, derived from the above-Athletes:* Andreas Herzog , Austrian soccer player* Dieter Herzog , German soccer player* Whitey Herzog , U.S...

    (1964) is largely written in letter format. These are both real and imagined letters, written by the protagonist Moses E. Herzog to family members, friends and famous figures.
  • "The Anderson Tapes" (1969, 1970) by Lawrence Sanders is a novel told primarily in the form of transcripts of tape recordings.
  • Stephen King
    Stephen King
    Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

    's novel Carrie
    Carrie (novel)
    Carrie is American author Stephen King's first published novel, released in 1974. It revolves around the eponymous Carrie, a shy high-school girl, who uses her newly discovered telekinetic powers to exact revenge on those who tease her...

    (1974) is written in an epistolary structure, through newspaper clippings, magazine articles, letters, and excerpts from books.
  • "The Fan" (1977) by Bob Randall is a thriller in epistolary form.
  • In John Barth
    John Barth
    John Simmons Barth is an American novelist and short-story writer, known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.-Life:...

    's epistolary work, Letters
    LETTERS (novel)
    LETTERS is an epistolary novel by the American writer John Barth, published in 1979. It consists of a series of letters in which Barth and the characters of his other books interact....

    (1979), the author interacts with characters from his other novels.
  • Alice Walker
    Alice Walker
    Alice Malsenior Walker is an American author, poet, and activist. She has written both fiction and essays about race and gender...

     employed the epistolary form in The Color Purple
    The Color Purple
    The Color Purple is an acclaimed 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker. It received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction...

    (1982). The 1985 film adaptation echoed the form by incorporating into the script some of the novel's letters, which the actors spoke as monologues.
  • Avi
    Edward Irving Wortis
    Edward Irving Wortis , better known by the pen name Avi, is an American author of young adult and children's literature. He is a winner of both the Newbery Honor and Newbery Medal.- Biography :...

     used this style of constructing a story in Nothing But the Truth (1991), where the plot is told using only documents, letters, and scripts.
  • Ronald Munson used an epistolary style in "Fan Mail" (1994), where the entire plot is told using e-mails, letters, transcripts of television shows and telephone conversations, faxes, and interactions with a computer program called ELIZA
    ELIZA
    ELIZA is a computer program and an early example of primitive natural language processing. ELIZA operated by processing users' responses to scripts, the most famous of which was DOCTOR, a simulation of a Rogerian psychotherapist. Using almost no information about human thought or emotion, DOCTOR...

    .
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel written by American novelist Stephen Chbosky. It was published on February 1, 1999 by MTV...

    (1999) was written by Stephen Chbosky
    Stephen Chbosky
    Stephen Chbosky is an American novelist, screenwriter, and film director best known for the coming-of-age novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower...

     in the form of letters from an anonymous character to a secret role model of sorts.
  • Richard B. Wright
    Richard B. Wright
    Richard B. Wright, CM, is a Canadian novelist.Born in Midland, Ontario, to Laverne and Laura . Wright graduated from Midland high school in 1956, and attended and graduated from Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in the area of Radio and TV arts in 1959...

    's Clara Callan
    Clara Callan
    Clara Callan is a novel by Canadian writer Richard B. Wright, published in 2001.Clara Callan is the story of a middle aged woman living in Ontario in the 1930's. It is written in the epistolary form, utilizing letters and journal entries to tell the story...

    (2001) uses letters and journal entries to weave the story of a middle-aged woman in the 1930s.
  • The Boy Next Door
    The Boy Next Door (novel)
    The Boy Next Door is a novel written by Meg Cabot. The book was published in 2002. It is written with an e-mail format throughout the book.- Plot :...

    (2002) by Meg Cabot
    Meg Cabot
    Meg Cabot is anAmerican author of romantic and paranormal fiction for teens and adults and used to write under several pen names, but now writes exclusively under her real name, Meg Cabot...

     is a romantic comedy novel dealt with entirely by emails sent among the characters.
  • Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
    Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
    Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography was first released on May 1, 2002. The book's content relates to the author Lemony Snicket and his series of books, A Series of Unfortunate Events...

    (2002) by Lemony Snicket
    Lemony Snicket
    Lemony Snicket is the pen name of American novelist Daniel Handler . Snicket is the author of several children's books, serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events and appearing as a character within the series. Because of this, the name Lemony Snicket may refer to both a fictional...

    /Daniel Handler
    Daniel Handler
    Daniel Handler is an American author, screenwriter and accordionist. He is best known for his work under the pen name Lemony Snicket.-Personal life:...

     uses letters, documents, and other scripts to construct the plotline.
  • Several of Gene Wolfe
    Gene Wolfe
    Gene Wolfe is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying into the religion. He is a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the...

    's novels are written in the forms of diaries, letters, or memoirs.
  • We Need to Talk about Kevin
    We Need to Talk About Kevin
    We Need to Talk About Kevin is a 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver, published by Serpent's Tail, about a fictional school massacre. It is written from the perspective of the killer's mother, Eva Khatchadourian, and documents her attempt to come to terms with her son Kevin and the murders he committed...

    (2003) is a monologic epistolary novel, written as a series of letters to the narrator's husband Franklin.
  • In the Ross O'Carroll-Kelly
    Ross O'Carroll-Kelly
    Ross O'Carroll-Kelly is a fictional wealthy "D4" rugby union player created by journalist Paul Howard.The character first appeared in a January 1998 column in the Sunday Tribune newspaper and later transferred to The Irish Times...

     novels, out-of-context text messages, usually humorous, mark transitions between sections.
  • Griffin and Sabine
    Griffin and Sabine
    Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence is an epistolary novel by Nick Bantock, published in 1991 by Chronicle Books in the United States and Raincoast Books in Canada. It is the first novel in The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy and was a bestseller in 1991...

    by artist Nick Bantock
    Nick Bantock
    Nick Bantock is a British artist and author based in Saltspring Island, British Columbia. Bantock is well-known for his popular series, The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy, and for making collage popular...

     is a love story written as a series of hand painted postcards and letters.
  • "The Confessions of Max Tivoli" by Andrew Sean Greer - 2004
  • World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
    World War Z
    World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a 2006 post-apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks. It is a follow-up to his 2003 book The Zombie Survival Guide. Rather than a grand overview or narrative, World War Z is a collection of individual accounts in the form of first-person anecdote...

    (2006) by Max Brooks
    Max Brooks
    Maximillian Michael "Max" Brooks is an American author and screenwriter, with a particular interest in zombies. Brooks is also a television and voice-over actor.- Early life and education :...

     is a series of interviews from various survivors of a zombie apocalypse
    Zombie apocalypse
    A zombie apocalypse is a particular scenario of apocalyptic literature that customarily has a science fiction/horror rationale. In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization....

    .
  • My Sister's a Pop Star (2006), I'm SO Not a Pop Star (2008), and the third book in the series, My Life on TV (2010), by American author Kimberly Greene
    Usborne Publishing
    Usborne Publishing, often called Usborne Books, is a United Kingdom-based publisher of children's literature.Founded by Peter Usborne in 1973, Usborne Publishing uses an in-house team of writers, editors and designers and is translated into over 55 languages...

    , use blog posts to move the plot along and introduce key changes in the protagonist's thinking.
  • "Punkzilla" by Adam Rapp (2009)
  • "Where Rainbows End"(2004) by Cecelia Ahern
    Cecelia Ahern
    Cecelia Ahern is an Irish novelist, since 2004. In addition to publishing several novels, she has also contributed a number of short stories to various anthologies, for which all her royalties go to charity.Ahern also created and produced the ABC comedy Samantha Who? starring Christina Applegate...

     is written in the form of letters, emails, instant messages, newspaper articles, etc.
  • "Super Sad True Love Story" (2010) by Gary Shteynghart.
  • "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows published in 2008.According to WorldCat, there are over 2200 library holdings of this title.From the Book Flap...

    " (2008) by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is written as a series of letters and telegraphs sent and received by the protagonist.
  • "Midnight Movie" (2011) by Tobe Hooper
    Tobe Hooper
    Tobe Hooper is an American film director and screenwriter, best known for his work in the horror film genre. His works include the cult classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , along with its first sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 ; the three-time Emmy-nominated Stephen King film adaptation...

     and Alan Goldsher
    Alan Goldsher
    - Music :Goldsher is a session and touring bassist. He has worked on the Cypress Hill remix of Janet Jackson's song "Because of Love" and on the Naughty by Nature-produced debut album by Zhané...

     is written as a series of emails, Tweets, texts, and oral histories.

In other media

  • "Dear Dad", episode twelve of the first season of M*A*S*H, used the framing device of a letter written by Hawkeye Pierce to his father to describe the events of the episode.
  • "The Stackhouse Filibuster
    The Stackhouse Filibuster
    "The Stackhouse Filibuster" is the 39th episode of The West Wing.-Plot:It's Friday night; The West Wing is expecting a legislative victory with the passage of the Family Wellness Bill in the Senate, and the staff is preparing to leave for the weekend. Suddenly, an unexpected filibuster of the bill...

    ", episode seventeen of the second season of The West Wing
    The West Wing (TV series)
    The West Wing is an American television serial drama created by Aaron Sorkin that was originally broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1999 to May 14, 2006...

    , used the framing device of emails sent by C.J. Cregg, Josh Lyman
    Josh Lyman
    Joshua "Josh" Lyman is a fictional character played by Bradley Whitford on the television drama The West Wing. For the majority of the series, he was White House Deputy Chief of Staff in the Josiah Bartlet administration...

     and Sam Seaborn
    Sam Seaborn
    Samuel Norman "Sam" Seaborn is a fictional character portrayed by Rob Lowe on the television serial drama The West Wing. He is best known for being Deputy White House Communications Director in the Josiah Bartlet administration throughout the first four seasons of the series.-Creation and...

     to their respective parents to describe the events of the episode.
  • The Beatles' "P.S. I Love You", Eminem's
    Eminem
    Marshall Bruce Mathers III , better known by his stage name Eminem or his alter ego Slim Shady, is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter and actor. Eminem's popularity brought his group project, D12, to mainstream recognition...

     "Stan
    Stan (song)
    "Stan" is the third single from The Marshall Mathers LP, by rapper Eminem featuring Dido. It peaked at number one in the United Kingdom and Australia. It is also included on Curtain Call: The Hits, performed with Eminem and Dido as well track 17 on Curtain Call: The Hits as a live Performance from...

    ", Leonard Cohen's
    Leonard Cohen
    Leonard Norman Cohen, is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963. His work often explores religion, isolation, sexuality and interpersonal relationships...

     "Famous Blue Raincoat
    Famous Blue Raincoat
    "Famous Blue Raincoat" is a song by Leonard Cohen. It is the sixth track on his third album, Songs of Love and Hate, released in 1971.-Summary:...

    " and Bloodhound Gang's
    Bloodhound Gang
    Bloodhound Gang is a Collegeville, Pennsylvania-based American comedy band, although it began as a rap group and gradually changed its genre throughout the years...

     "The Ballad of Chasey Lain" are all examples of epistolary songs.
  • Thomas Bailey Aldrich
    Thomas Bailey Aldrich
    Thomas Bailey Aldrich was an American poet, novelist, travel writer and editor.-Early life and education:...

    's Marjorie Daw
    Marjorie Daw (short story)
    "Marjorie Daw" is a short story by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. One of Aldrich's first short stories, and his most famous, it was first published in 1869 and remains in print to this day....

    and Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform...

    's The Yellow Wallpaper
    The Yellow Wallpaper
    "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a short story by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating attitudes in the nineteenth century toward women's physical...

    are two examples of epistolary short stories
    Short Stories
    Short Stories may refer to:*A plural for Short story*Short Stories , an American pulp magazine published from 1890-1959*Short Stories, a 1954 collection by O. E...

    .

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