Letter Writing

Robert N. Hudspeth

in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195331035
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Letter Writing

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)
  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


Show Summary Details


The letters the Transcendentalists wrote each other were a kind of literary performance; they were indirect and they were a verbal play. As the article explains, among the Transcendentalists, the reaching out to close ones was often accomplished through private, very personal letters. While all writers write letters, and many of the letters of the Transcendentalists memorable, even brilliant, the Transcendentalists distinguished themselves in this genre because their letters were often an art form in themselves, one that explored their most abiding concern to know the nature of a human self. However, the Transcendentalists seldom wrote about the “holy” in their letters. Even so, not all of their letters were literature, nor did every letter rise to significant intellectual occasions, for the mail was for the Transcendentalists as it was for the public at large, a means of conducting life's ordinary business. But letters were more than just life's business; they were also an opportunity to be creative.

Keywords: letter writing; human self; creative; conversation

Article.  5234 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers) ; Literary Studies (19th Century)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.