The reason why I chose this topic is that during the second year we had it as part as our acquaintances and it was at that time that I had gone through its summary. I loved reading it and wished to know more about it in detail. Thus, when I came across it as a part our syllabus in M.A., I readily took it up as my research topic, as it was not just the novel but the form of the novel as well that particularly interested me. Because epistolary novel is something which I had come across once but was not completely well-acquainted with it. And here was the chance for me to not only read novel but be well aware of it by studying it in a context of its form as well.
So now that I have mentioned the term “Epistolary” and its relation to the novel, I would be starting with an explanation of the epistolary novel form so as to make it easy to be able to relate it to the novel Pamela.
However, in order to understand the term epistolary novel per se, it is essential for us to understand what a “novel” itself is.
The shorter oxford dictionary defines it as,
“A fictitious prose narrative of considerable length in which characters and actions representative of real life are portrayed in plot of more or less complexities.”
And it was until eighteenth century that people began to read and write the sorts of books that we now call novels. And significantly the history of the English novel is said to have started in 1740 with the publication of Richardson’s Pamela.
There are various types of novels that have evolved over the ages like
Types of Novels
The Epistolary novel
The word epistolary novel comes from the Latin word epistola, meaning a letter. An epistolary novel is a genre of fiction, which gained popularity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is a form in which most of entire plot is advanced by the letters or journal entries of one or more of its characters.
Epistolary fiction is said to have started in the ancient roman times, but the epistolary novel as a distinct genre first gained prominence in Britain in the mid-eighteenth century in Britain. Aphra Behn in Britain and Charles Louis de Montesquieu in France produced works of fiction told through the medium of letters, but many scholars still regard Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740) to be the first example of the epistolary novel—and indeed the first mature novel to be written in English. Richardson’s ground-breaking work is marked by a consistent and well-structured characterization, plot and theme that had been missing in the earlier efforts of fiction. The psychological dimension was added by Richardson. His ‘Pamela’ and ‘Clarissa’ are written in epistolary form and dramatic narrative. The epistolary novel enjoyed its greatest popularity in England and France from the mid-1700s to the end of the century, a time when literacy was on the increase and the public sought literary works with more depictions of ordinary experience and greater psychological realism than were found in the old heroic romances. The epistolary novel, being based on subjective points of view, by its very nature, it offers intimate insight into characters’ thoughts and feelings without interference of the author and advances the plot with dramatic immediacy. Generally, epics, novels were written on issues related to morality and were sentimental in nature.
Female characters in the novel often battle with sexual temptation and moral appropriateness and they realise...