Correspondence : Models of Letter-Writing from the Middle Ages to the Ninteenth Century

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In this book Roger Chartier and his associates explore the history of a cultural practice that has become common and widespread: the writing of letters.

They begin by examining the invention of norms for writing letters in the Middle Ages, and the fixing of these norms in popular manuals of various kinds. They then analyse the letter-writing models developed in the ancien regime, showing how these models were linked to court literature, on the one hand, and to the popular books distributed by pedlars, on the other. Finally they discuss the models of letter-writing developed during the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century, they argue, was a decisive period in the history of letter writing, partly because of the rapid rise in rates of literacy and partly due to broader social and economic transformations, which increased the need for writing letters.

By exploring the ways in which practices of letter writing have changed over the centuries, this path-breaking book sheds light on an everyday cultural practice which has created new ways of thinking, of feeling and of relating to others as well as to oneself.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 168 pages
  • 161 x 236 x 15mm | 392g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • French
  • 0
  • 0745612253
  • 9780745612256
  • 1,871,199

Table of contents

Introduction: An ordinary kind of writing (Roger Chartier).
1. The letter-writing norm, a mediaeval invention (Alain Boureau).

2. Secretaires for the people? Model letters of the ancien regime between court literature and popular chapbook (Roger Chartier).

3. Letter-writing manuals in the nineteenth century (Cecile Dauphin).

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Review quote

"In the days when new approaches to sources and cultures are rare, this work is exceptionally brilliant and convincing. The "how to" books for letter writing have never been so boldly and learnedly scrutinized in their totality before. Chartier has done it again -- with the inspired collaboration of Alain Boureau and Cecile Dauphin." ----Orest Ranum, Johns Hopkins University
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