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).
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
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.
The concepts of worship and fellowship, for instance, appear frequently in gentry correspondence such as the Paston letters
, and slander was seen as a constant danger.
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.
The character of the fifteenth-century gentleman John Wyndham, as reflected in the Paston Letters
, is C.
Judging from the Paston letters
, paper was definitely the accepted medium for personal letters by the early fifteenth century, for Davis notes that all of them are on paper, the earliest dated 1425.