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Correspondence: Models of Letter-Writing from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century (transl. by Christopher Woodall)

Опубликовано на портале: 25-06-2004
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997, 170 с.
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 letterwriting models developed in the ancien regimes, 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.

Французский оригинал: Les usages de la lettre au XIX siècle. Paris, Fayard, 1991. --------------------------- «Correspondence» explores the history of a fascinating cultural practice: the writing of letters. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, western societies served a long apprenticeship in the culture of the written word. Although mastery of reading and writing was far from evenly distributed, many tradesmen, shopkeepers, and artisans possessed these skills. A specialized literature came into being whose aim it was to regulate and control ordinary forms of letter-writing by instilling in people the difficult techniques that this writing entailed. As a result, tensions evolved in the structured practice of letter-writing. Although writers wished to stay within the guidelines set forth by secrtaires or by collections of model letters, they also wanted to be spontaneous. "Correspondence" explores these tensions over a long span of time by examining model letter collections. The authors examine the invention of norms for writing letters in the Middle Ages, and the application of these norms in various popular manuals. They then analyze the letter-writing models developed in the ancien rgime, showing how these models were linked to both court literature and popular books distributed by pedlars. Finally, the discussion turns to models of letter-writing developed during the nineteenth century. By exploring changes in letter-writing, this book sheds light on a cultural practice that has created ways of thinking, of feeling, and of relating to others and to oneself.
Acknowledgements ----
Introduction: An Ordinary Kind of Writing - Model letters and letter-writing in ancien regime France 1 ----
1. The Letter-Writing Norm, a Mediaeval Invention 24 ----
2. Secretaires for the People? - Model letters of the ancien regime: between court literature and popular chapbook 59 ----
3. Letter-Writing Manuals in the Nineteenth Century 112 ----
Index ----

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