The collection of the 5 volumes containing The Paston Letters
shows that capitalized I was used in private correspondence almost exclusively.
Analyses cross tabulating different linguistic and extralinguistic factors in the Paston Letters
have shown patterns of co-variation of standardness, social class and social networks (Gomez-Solino 1997; Hernandez-Campoy and Conde-Silvestre 1999; Conde-Silvestre and Hernandez-Campoy 2004; Bergs 2005), the end of the inflectional subjunctive (Hernandez-Campoy 2012), composite predicates and phrasal verbs (Tanabe 1999; Schafer 1996), along with the effects of covert prestige and the standard ideology (Hernandez-Campoy 2008), word-order and stylistic distortion (Escribano 1982), rhetoric (Escribano 1985; Watt 1993), as well as critical discourse analysis (Wood 2007).
These trends appear with particular clarity from Hume's reading of certain Paston letters
, especially those which document the amorous activities of John Paston II and III and their friends.
While the Paston letters
were in the "newsletter" model rather than in that of humanist letters or letters of wisdom or exhortation, the omission of a date in a fair number of their letters never seems to have drawn an adverse comment or aroused the anger of its recipient.
When Maurice Keen introduced the Paston Letters
to the readers of History Today in May 1959, the correspondence had already been in print for more than 150 years.
While much work remains to be done in this area, servants' letters nonetheless represent an important part of that polyphony of voices we encounter when reading the Paston letters
Cherewatuk examines the idea of companionate and political/societal marriage, and the interaction between the two, by comparing literary evidence from the Morte Darthur with historical evidence from the contemporary Paston Letters
The practice of calling oneself a "valentine" and asking one's beloved to be the same, is referred to in the Paston Letters
, the largest surviving collection of 15th-century English correspondence written by the Paston family and their neighbours in Norfolk.
Recent scholarly work on the Paston women's letters demonstrates, however, that important steps are being taken in this direction: Diane Watt, for example, explores what she terms "household rhetoric" in discussing the Paston letters
, and Roger Dalrymple examines the reactive, consolatory, and redressive aspects of the Paston women's letters.
All that said, and put aside, we now have to wonder, along with many other appraisers, what kind of beast this "novel" is, and my own contribution, based on various modes or manners or the writing, is that it is Coetzee trying to compose an experimental work, even if, say, it harks back to Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveler (1594) or The Paston Letters
(some 1,100 letters and other documents from the prosperous Pastons of Norfolk, England, covering business and family affairs for three generations from 1422 to 1509).
Like the Paston letters
, the Gawdy letters are frequently taken up with noting options for good matches with gentlewomen of wealth, Nor are they shy about detailing the annual incomes and property holdings of potential marriage partners before turning to the pleasing personal qualities of the (usually) lady up for bid.
Going back to the 15th century, the famous Paston letters
demonstrate how love can develop, even in an arranged marriage.