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The Oxford Book of Letters

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More than 300 letters spanning five centuries chronicle the affairs of correspondents from Elizabeth I to Groucho Marx, from politicians to poets, and from the famous to the unknown. But whether the writers are educated or barely literate, whether their style is polished and witty or stumbling and artless, these letters display an immediacy and intimacy not shared by any other form of writing. Their subjects range from the mundane to the extraordinary, from gossip about the latest fashion to the horrors of a public execution, and from the tragic to the hilarious. Exchanges of letters between regular correspondents are included, where familiarity and an ongoing saga add to the fascination. Among the most moving letters are those from emigrants to America, Australia, and South Africa, describing the hardships they endured and the resolution with which they faced their new worlds. The editors provide a context for the letters, and unobtrusive notes.

This comprehensive anthology of letters in English spans five centuries, from Elizabeth I to Groucho Marx, from politicians and poets, from the famous to the unknown. With subjects ranging from the mundane to the extraordinary, from the tragic to the hilarious, this volume celebrates the glory of the written word and what may well be a dying art form.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Letters written by writers and other famous people intrigue us. We hope to get a glimpse of their more private and spontaneous selves yet also expect that there will be no loss of originality when it comes to expressiveness, insight, drama, or humor. The enthusiastic erudite editors of this eclectic volume have studied 500 years worth of epistolary output by British nobility and British and American writers and chosen 300 examples. Although specific letters will strike a reader's fancy, what's most remarkable about this collection is how it chronicles not only radical social and cultural changes, but also truly remarkable permutations in diction, vocabulary, and grammar."--Booklist

From Barnes & Noble
Celebrating a form of communication that is, in this age of e-mail, faxes, and the telephone, becoming a dying art--here is a collection of more than 300 letters spanning five centuries and chronicling the affairs of correspondents from Elizabeth I to Groucho Marx, from politicians to poets, and from the famous to the unknown. Ranging in style from polished and witty to stumbling and artless, these communiqu‚s include juicy gossip, extraordinary revelations, joyful tidings, bad news, and strong opinions. The editors provide a context for the letters and some unobtrusive explanatory notes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192804907
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/5/2003
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 972,326
  • Product dimensions: 7.69 (w) x 5.13 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editors:
Frank Kermode, author and critic, is retired King Edward VII Professor of English at Cambridge. He has written and edited many books, including Uses of Error and The Oxford Anthology of English Literature. Anita Kermode has researched and taught English and American literature at Rutgers University, Columbia University, and the University of Cambridge.

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