Wednesday, August 5, 2009

epistolary novel

I was working on a review of Dracula, and came across the term epistolary novel. Having a librarian for a wife can come in handy. She dug out her Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, and handed it to me. It turns out an epistolary novel is a novel written in the form of a series of letters exchanged among the characters of the story with extracts from their journals sometimes included.

So Dracula would be an epistolary novel since the entire story is told using journal entries, letters, and newspaper clippings. Another epistolary novel would be The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. One advantage of this style of story telling is it allows the author to write the story using several different character voices without losing the reader. While in Dracula the style hindered the interaction of the characters and did not provide a lot of dialogue, this was not the case in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

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