the epistolary novel comeback


question– what is an epistolary novel?

answer– a novel composed of letters. narration in the form of letters or journal entries. a novel without face to face, real time dialogue. an epistolary novel is also a technique. the author can write from the perspective of many narrators (in the first person).


the epistolary novel is true to form what adventureclubinteractive likes to call organic. this is not because the epistolary novel has old-fashioned roots nor because it is any more pure a process of creative writing than other type of novel. instead consider the forms of communication back in eighteenth century europe (when the epistolary novel was popular). imagine trying to get in touch with a long lost cousin or an estranged lover. imagine sitting down to write them a long letter. you would have to reflect back as far as a month perhaps- the time span since your last correspondence had been:

sent –>received –>replied to –>received by you

letters were once so immersive. they had to be. the monthly correspondence cycle would demand you to be succinct, to the point, and there would be no room for unimportant thoughts. your wrists would ache. more difficult still would be that you would be writing in response to the letter you received but you would not have in front of you the letter you had last written. hopefully you would not repeat yourself… or contradict yourself.


question– what is an epistle?

answer– an archaic word for a handwritten letter.


epistles are not too relevant these days. globalization, technology in communication, and the demand for efficiency cast a shadow from which the epistle may never shine its way out of.

–>calling, paging, typing, texting, tweeting…copying, pasting, editing, sharing, liking… messaging, blogging, friending, commenting, profiling… downloading, uploading, ripping, routing, burning- instantly, immediately, electronically, automatically <–

no surprise if you go a day without seeing a mailman, or a month without buying a book of stamps, or a year without purchasing envelopes (more than the one that comes with the card). we can say it all without the paper trail and make it official without signing in ink. but maybe we should look at the flip-side of these conveniences that have replaced the epistle… maybe we should examine the quality of communication instead of the increased quantity of it. there are many interesting paradigms / ironies / paradoxes in this increasingly globalized, ever more interconnected world…

–> the more we are able to reach out and talk to each other- the less we really do <–

(i.e. how much do you really contact distant family- when you know you should and how easy it is that you can!)

–> the more difficult it is to communicate, the more valuable the communication <–

(i.e. in the epistle era- eighteenth century- composed letters had to make up for a lot of time lapsed between correspondence. it would have been absurd to send a letter across oceans that only included one sentence [worse if it only included acronyms and abbreviated fragments of sentences {does anybody ever use proper grammar on the world wide web anymore?}])

–> as communication becomes more efficient, privacy becomes more illicit <–


question– what is the point of this?

answer– what is the point of anything?


anyway there are some beautiful epistolary novels out there. from Dracula to We Need To Talk About Kevin and even contemporary attempts at merging new forms of communication (arguably not an epistolary novel per say) like Intimacies that consists of emails and instant message conversations that you apparently need special software to read.

adventureclubinteractive is currently having a go at an epistolary novel. the creators- adventureclubviral and thestephALA- have been corresponding with paper, pens, ink and stamps, fictional letter by fictional letter. at the outset there was absolutely no decision about a subject or topic, not a single character or context had been presupposed. they are just seeing what they come up with as they send off one letter and await a reply for another. is the point of this to really co-author an epistolary novel? not really. it is fun to check the mailbox everyday though. what is the point of anything anyway adventure seekers? perhaps you will explore or rediscover the epistle yourselves and you can write to adventureclubinteractive all about it.


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