A landmark of postmodern American fiction, Letters is (as the subtitle genially informs us) “an old time epistolary novel by seven fictitious drolls & dreamers each of which imagines himself factual.” Seven characters (including the Author himself) exchange a novel’s worth of letters during a 7-month period in 1969, a time of revolution that recalls the U.S.’s first revolution in the 18th century – the heyday of the epistolary novel. Recapitulating American history as well as the plots of his first six novels, Barth’s seventh novel is a witty and profound exploration of the nature of revolution and renewal, rebellion and reenactment, at both the private and public levels. It is also an ingenious meditation on the genre of the novel itself, recycling an older form to explore new directions, new possibilities for the novel.
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