Although there are a couple things I really meant to read that I didn’t, I’ve decided it’s time to call an end to the epistolary literature project. After nearly eleven months, I’ve done what I’m going to do, for a while at least. I think it was mostly a good run:
- I started in Ancient Greece with the lovely epistolary poems of Ovid and Alciphron’s letters of fishermen, farmers, parasites, and courtesans.
- I tackled the necessary Pamela, but didn’t think much of her. No indeed, but important to my project nonetheless.
- I took a break from the 18th century with some real love letters, then enjoyed a parody of Pamela.
- I discovered a lesser-known work from North America, cute and romantic. Also historically interesting and full of good travel writing and a very sweet hero.
- Then I found a new favorite in Humphry Clinker, especially in the person of Matthew Bramble—even with his spleen. Smollett also gave me another excuse to knock Pamela and some great food writing.
- Another Scottish writer provided me with another delightful epistolary novel, a relative of the first.
- I determined that the middling Evelina is not a great example of the form.
- But I have a lot of fun with middling Jane Austen.
- I happen upon a later example of the form in Dostoevsky’s Poor Folk.
- And I finally get around to reading Werther and his letters.
As with all projects, I’m finishing with a longer list than I began with. Also typically, I’m ready to do other things for a while.