REVIEW ESSAY Ancient Epistolary Fictions: The Letter in Greek Literature. By Patricia A. Rosenmeyer. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. x + 370 pp. $64.95. Relays: Literature as an Epoch of the Postal System. By Bernhard Siegert. Trans. Kevin Repp. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999. ix + 325 pp. $60.00/ $22.95 The body of scholarship devoted to the cultural and literary practice of epistolarity continues to grow, as evidenced by the new arrivals under review here. Both of them widen our perspective of the field. Rosenmeyer takes her readers back to the origins of the genre in Western literature, while Siegert looks at its transformations and dispersals through the technological and commerical developments of the late-eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries, focusing mainly on the German-speaking countries. To begin at the end: Siegert ties his thesis closely to the book's subtitle--however, the term "postal" includes related communications technologies such as telegraphy, typewriting, and telephony. The author restates his thesis in the form of a question: "What was the postal principle that allowed the letter's transformation into literature to make its appearance?" (53). Siegert moves back and forth between discussions of economic and technological changes in the postal system,
Comparative Literature Studies – Penn State University Press
Published: Feb 9, 2003
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