Letter Matters: Corporeality, Physicality, Epistolarity

Bayer G (2023)

Publication Language: English

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2023


Book Volume: 46-47

Pages Range: 121-137

Journal Issue: 2-1

DOI: 10.1353/rst.2022.0014


During the English Restoration, the writing of letters took on new significance, and the formal tradition of letter writing contributed significantly to the experimentation that played out within the genres of narrative prose fiction. While epistolarity is built on the absence of speakers, merely evoking their spectral presence during the moment of reading, materiality nevertheless finds its way into these indirect forms of communication. In fact, corporeality and the physicality of objects included in letters could be said to make up for the absent body of the speaker. This article discusses how Restoration epistolarity employs such forms of materiality, arguing that readers and writers, both within the diegetic realm and in actual reality, decoded ostentatious moments of materiality as acts that lent letters an element of veracity and reliability that this generic form was not usually able to claim at this particular historical moment. Texts studied include Robert Beaumont's Loves Missives to Virtue (1660) and Margaret Cavendish's Sociable Letters (1664).

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How to cite


Bayer, G. (2023). Letter Matters: Corporeality, Physicality, Epistolarity. Restoration, 46-47(2-1), 121-137. https://doi.org/10.1353/rst.2022.0014


Bayer, Gerd. "Letter Matters: Corporeality, Physicality, Epistolarity." Restoration 46-47.2-1 (2023): 121-137.

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