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The Epistolary Form: A Familiar Fiction Open Access

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During the 18th century, the novel was criticized for a lack of representation of reality and in turn a public distrust of fiction was established. The epistolary form addressed these issues by presenting a narrative that was bound by a real-life structure that allowed for the illusion of reality and authenticity. Today, this distrust of fiction is nonexistent but the epistolary form is still present and a frequently used literary device, providing the real-life structure for an escape from reality. However, while commercial fiction has embraced the form and moved past the historical justification of the epistolary novel, most artists’ books have not. This paper will prove how the artist book has struggled to move past the historical epistolary form and what lessons it can take from the world of contemporary commercial fiction.

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