Novels in letters: the best books in this genre

The novel in letters, it is an epistolary genre, exists in literature not for the first century. With what works, built as a correspondence of characters, it is worth spending a winter evening?

Shoderlo de Laclos "Dangerous Liaisons" (1782)

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Shoderlo de Laclos "Dangerous Liaisons" (1782)

When the French artillery general Choderlot de Laclos published his essay, he was accused, firstly, of immorality, and secondly, of the theft and tradition of publicizing ... someone else's correspondence. The novel about the intrigues of the lecherous viscount de Valmont and the Marquise de Mertey consists of 175 letters written not only by the main, but also secondary characters to each other. In the end, good conquers evil, but the book has not become outdated today as an excellent textbook for seducers (read, pick up artists) and those who do not want to get into their networks.

A man enjoys the happiness that he himself feels, a woman - the one she gives

Fyodor Dostoevsky "Poor people" (1844–1845)

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Fyodor Dostoevsky "Poor people" (1844–1845)

This is Fyodor Dostoevsky's debut novel about “little people”, crushed by life, “humiliated and offended” by society, but who have not lost their sense of pride, ability to empathize, needs to dream and love.The correspondence of a modest middle-aged official Makar Devushkin and the girls of Varvara Dobroselova are sometimes sentimental, naive and mannered. But Dostoevsky and Dostoevsky, that the reader himself does not notice how the read lines relate to the secret strings of his soul, causing a variety of emotions - compassion, disgust, anger, pain and resentment for such unanswered martyrs like Devushkin. 

... when you look at these started lines, then with your thoughts read on everything that you would like to hear or read from me, everything that I would have written to you; and what I would not write now!

Anne Bronte "The Stranger of Wildfell Hall" (1848)

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Anne Bronte "The Stranger of Wildfell Hall" (1848)

The novel about the heroine, the first marriage of which can be compared to hell, and the second to heaven on earth, has the form of a large letter with inserts of the diary pages. The author of the diary is English aristocratic Helen Graham, the author of the letter is her second husband, landowner Gilbert Markham, telling his relative what difficult path to happiness he and his wife had to go.

Contemporaries called the book Anne Bronte the most daring novel of the middle of the XIX century about marriage. The writer with the mouth of the heroine openly talks about the powerlessness of women in the family and in society, about the perniciousness of drunkenness, debauchery and the difficulties of raising a child when the father cannot be a worthy example to him.In response to criticism: they say the plot is immoral, - Bronte wrote the introduction to the second edition of the novel, where she noticed: the truth always transmits its morality to those who are able to accept it.

Give neither hand, nor heart, until you find a weighty reason to part with them.

Thornton Wilder "The Ides of March" (1948)

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Thornton Wilder "The Ides of March" (1948)

Ida - the so-called day in the middle of the month in the ancient Roman calendar. On the Ides of March (March 15, 44 BC), dictator Julius Caesar was killed by conspirators. Wilder’s novel is, according to the author, an attempt at an artistic re-creation of the fateful events and vivid characters of the last days of the Roman Republic. Epistolary form of the work, firstly, gives it scope, scale: the letters in the novel are many! Secondly, there is an effect of authenticity, documentary: you read and do not doubt that it was precisely this style that Caesar wrote, his wife Pompey, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, the poet Catullus, philosopher and orator Cicero, the insidious Brutus. And thirdly, personal letters expose the character and motives of the actions of the characters far deeper than an impartial chronicle.

Life has no other meaning than what we give it. She does not support a person and does not humiliate him.We cannot escape either mental agony or joy, but by themselves these states do not tell us anything; and our hell and our paradise are waiting for us to put our meaning in them

Bel Kaufman "Up the stairs leading down" (1965)

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Bel Kaufman "Up the stairs leading down" (1965)

The heroine of the book, a young teacher of English and literature, Silvia Barrett, who teaches at a New York school for difficult students, is an alter ego of Kaufman. The writer has never concealed that her novel is more than half autobiographical. According to her, the most difficult thing in the work on the work was to create a multi-voiced dialogue - “to compose a great many letters, explanatory notes, circulars and instructions that describe students, teachers, parents and the management brighter and more alive than my own words”.

The novel is almost entirely composed of various notes, documents showing how the school’s life and educational process were mired in bureaucracy, as well as excerpts from the essays (in the spirit of Homer's “Odyssey,” I wouldn’t even read my dog) "Teacher". The idealist Sylvia is fighting on two fronts: with students' indifference to study and with the indifference of most of their colleagues to students. And she succeeds a lot!

How to correct them and what to correct - spelling, punctuation or loneliness, showing through between the lines?

Cecilia Ahern "I do not believe. I do not hope. I love ”(2004)

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Cecilia Ahern "I do not believe. I do not hope. I love ”(2004)

Other titles of this book, depending on the translation, are “Where the rainbow ends” and “With love, Rosie.” The novel covers almost fifty years of the life of the main characters — Rosie and Alex’s friends from childhood — and contains several hundred of their letters, notes, postcards, and electronic messages. The plot is not new: intimate friendship with her and his becomes a real love, which both have been looking for for a long time, not assuming that the other half is very close. It is very fascinating to follow the correspondence of the couple: they make each other laugh, stand behind one another, make mistakes, grow up, but don’t want to grow old ... And one day they dare to look deeper into their own hearts to understand what kind of feeling really binds them.

What a cruel joke tales play with us. I know for sure that I don’t need a knight or a prince, that only grief and trouble can come from them; but every time I become unbearable, I again dream that someone rode (really rode, on a white horse!) and took me away from here. Anyway ...

Mikhail Shishkin "Letter" (2010)

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Mikhail Shishkin "Letter" (2010)

This epistolary novel, laureate of the “Big Book” award 2011, literary critics assess it as a significant phenomenon in modern Russian intellectual prose. Correspondence of lovers tears up the connection of times (letters go to nowhere, follow one another inappropriately), then re-unites the past and the present, and the theme of love is closely intertwined with the themes of war, memory and death.

The main character, Volodya, writes to Sasha, to his chosen one, being in the Chinese campaign - this is a historic event of 1900, which united the forces of Russians, Americans, Germans, Japanese and French to suppress the Boxer (Ikhtuan) uprising. But Sasha’s reality is conditional - the author does not endow the heroine’s fate with precise geographical and chronological frameworks. Her life is full of simple things and things: she cleans the house, goes to the tram to work, reads the newspaper, loves her beloved cat.



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