Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The epistolary novel was a form most popular in the 18th century in the works of such authors as Samuel Richardson, whose epistolary novel Pamela (1740), considered one of the First novels in English. In France, Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) used the epistolary form to great dramatic effect, because the sequence of events was not always related directly or explicitly. The epistolary novel slowly fell out of use in the 19th century, especially as Jane Austen popularized techniques of the omniscient narrator. For example, Pride and Prejudice (1811) was originally written as an epistolary novel but Austen rewrote it with a third-person omniscient narrator marking, in part, the end of the era of the epistolary novel.
The most recent mutation of the epistolary novel is the novel in e-mails, which follows the same format (example: PS He's Mine ).
The term epistolary refers to the older term for a letter, epistle. It has nothing to do with epistemology.
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