Friday, April 8, 2011

Epistolary Novel


Hi guys! Have you ever read an epistolary novel?

It's a story that uses letters, found notes, diary entries, newspaper clippings, etc., to help tell a story. They can be
monologic (all letters/entries from one character), dialogic (from two characters), or polylogic (multiple).

The great thing about this type of novel is you can get different view points without using an omnicient narrator. Also, it can seem as if the story is non-fiction, when it isn't.


Dracula
, by Bram Stoker is an epistolary novel written entirely with documents such as these. Even if it's not a novel, I can't help but mention Love Letters, a play by A. R. Gurney which I really enjoyed from a while ago. The two characters sat side by side the whole play and read letters to each other that span decades.

Many other novels will use documents to aid in the narrative, but won't have the entire story via documents, such as Stephen King's
Carrie or Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere.

Fictional diaries
are also a type of epistolary novel. Think Bridget Jone's Diary, or Flowers for Algernon.

Do you have a favorite epistolary novel?

28 comments:

Stephen Tremp said...

I did like Lemony Snicket and A Series of Unfortyante Events. There was a movie with Jim Carrey made too.

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm sure I must have read something like this, but I'm drawing a blank.

Need. More. Caffeine.

Happy Friday!

Melody Valadez said...

Um, does the Dear America series count? :)

Tracey Neithercott said...

Wow, I can't think of any. I guess that means I need to read some from your suggestions.

Olga said...

The epistolary genre exists, but I wonder why it's not so popular among writers. I love all the examples of epistolary novels that you have indicated.

Krispy said...

I don't think I've read one where the entire thing is written in documents. I do like it when books use other documents to supplement the story. For example, I found the poems in The Sky is Everywhere moving - sometimes more than the actual narrative.

I'm reading A Brief History of Montmaray right now, and it's written as a diary. I'm quite enjoying it.

LTM said...

I personally LOVE epistolatory novels. One of my MSs is told through three journals. It's not all the letters, news clippings, etc., of some, but it was fun to write and I think it's so interesting to read. But I'm one of those who likes reading others' diaries... LOL! :D It's the snoop in me~ <3

Jennifer Snyder said...

Hmmm...what about The Vampire Diaries by L.J.Smith? There were some entries in those books here and there.

Also, what a beautiful blog you've got here! Nice!

vbtremper said...

How about Dangerous Liaisons?

Hannah Kincade said...

Hmmm, I don't know if I have a favorite...probably House of Leaves, if you forced me to answer. ;)

Carol Riggs said...

Good examples of this! I know there are more out there, but I can't think of them right off. Yep, it's the thrill of reading someone else's "diary." I like them okay but rather prefer more prose-style ones. There are also novels in verse, and Lauren Myracle's novel entitled ttyl used IM language like texting throughout (rather difficult to read, IMHO).

Jodi MacArthur said...

Dracula, definitely. Also, bits of Frankenstein is written this way. I love the style. Great post.

Sondrae Bennett said...

I had to rack my brain to think of one but I have read The Diary of Anne Frank years ago. I think It's a very powerful style.

David R. Matteri said...

Stephen King's Carrie is my favorite. I really liked how he used the court documents and medical report to make the story more real.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Had not heard of the epistolary novel. But Diary of Anne Frank and Bridget Jone's Diary come to mind.

Heather said...

They are my favorite type of novel, but I did kind of like The Vampire Diaries. Should I duck and cover when I say that? ;)

The Words Crafter said...

I read Dracula when I was a teenager-and I didn't know it was this type of novel. What a cool idea....

Wakes up the scrabooker in me and wants to try it!

Hmmmm......

Steph said...

I think I should read Dracula! In this time of teen-romance vampire stories, I think it will help me appreciate the genre again!

Jayne said...

Yes, very cool kind of story-telling... adds a lot of texture. Can't recall a favorite... and now I am totally distracted by your side bar which I can see in the periphery - and you have the MacGuffin there! I haven't seen that listed in a long time. Ah, ok, where were we? Oh yes, good post!

Melissa Bradley said...

I love, love Dracula. Edeet Ravel's 10,000 Lovers comes to mind as well. It's all from Lily's POV, but it's like her present self is reading diary entries from her past self.

lbdiamond said...

I really like the concept of a "diary novel."

L'Aussie said...

By the end of the post I was starting to get the idea. I'm sure I've read some but never realised it had a pigeonhole. Fascinating. Bridget Jones' Diary, hum.

Denise<3

L'Aussie Travel A - Z Challenge

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I've never read a whole epistolary novel but I loved the use of documents in THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE and other books. :)

Jennifer Snyder said...

Just thought of another one...the popular Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series. I'm reading this with my son and it's so funny!

Connie said...

Pamela by Samuel Richardson is an epistolary novel and is arguably the first novel ever written. It's not a "favorite" of mine. But it's interesting to read to see how novels have evolved over time.

Gail said...

How about The Guernsey Literary and Potato peel Pie Society? I loved that book! Even on CD!!!

MorningAJ said...

Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road. Of course, it's not fiction but I don't think that matters in this context.

Strangely, I'm mulling over an idea for an epistolary novel at the moment.

Jonene Ficklin said...

I absolutely loved "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" - which was written completely in letter form.

 
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