Author: Katherine Kong
Author info: Assistant Professor of French
Publication Date: July 2010
Publisher: D. S. Brewer
Synopsis: This book argues that letters in medieval and early-modern France reveal the contours of the pre-modern self. Letters in this period were complicated compositions which, in addition to their administrative and artistic functions, represented the self in relation to its various others: social superiors and subordinates; friends and lovers; teachers and students; allies and adversaries; patrons and supplicants. These relationships were expressed in the content and form of letters: the rule-bound medieval discipline of letter writing structured the expression of interpersonal relationships in exacting ways, and writers navigated its rules to express contradictory and even illicit relations. Each chapter focuses on a particular epistolary exchange in its intellectual and cultural context, emphasizing the importance of letter-writing in pre-modern French culture and tracing a selective yet significant history of the letter, contributing to our understanding of the development of the epistolary genre, and the pre-modern self.