Epistolary Responses: The Letter in 20th-Century American Fiction and Criticism

Synopsis

Letters - a most traditional and old-fashioned form of discourse - continue to offer special opportunities for writers and readers in the postmodern era. Bower explores the way letters shape the act of writing and writing as act. Epistolary Responses uses a variety of theoretical approaches (chiefly feminist and reader response) to analyze seven novels, all featuring women letter writers: Ana Castillo's The Mixquiahuala Letters, Upton Sinclair's Another Pamela, John Updike's S., Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs, Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies, and John Barth's LETTERS (in which six men also write letters, but the central and most original epistolarian is female). Punctuated with various letters - from novel authors and critics - Epistolary Responses enacts some of the give and take of the subject matter and provides some sense of the collective or composite textuality.