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Chapter 4 - Epistolary Peripeteiae

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 November 2021

Eve Tavor Bannet
Affiliation:
University of Oklahoma
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Summary

Narrative-epistolary fiction often centered reversals in knowledge and revolutions in the course of events on letters. We have already encountered several such letters in passing: in Behn’s Love Letters, Silvia’s transformation from manipulated victim into manipulating siren turned on Philander’s “Blame the Victim” letter; in Haywood’s The City Jilt, a correspondence with her “ungrateful” lover marked the revolution in Glicera’s treatment of men and of letters; in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy’s letter-narrative occasioned a reversal of Elizabeth’s previously ignorant judgments and later, of her previous action in refusing him. We have also encountered in passing, cases involving empirical tests where epistolary peripeteiae were complicated by the coupling of false and true anagnorises (discoveries or revelations) as well as by exploration of the associated hamartia – a term encompassing character flaws (such as excesses of passion, drunkenness, or madness) and errors in reasoning or judgment. In Betsy Thoughtless, Miss Flora’s anonymous letter instigated a false discovery due to Truelove’s false reasoning, which created a reversal on the level of the plot; both were later corrected by Truelove’s accidental discovery of the truth about the letter and, once they were both free to marry, by another reversal in the plot.

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Chapter
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The Letters in the Story
Narrative-Epistolary Fiction from Aphra Behn to the Victorians
, pp. 176 - 219
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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