Richardson does not seem to expect that anyone will actually believe that he stumbled upon a bunch of letters, but the epistolary novel is also an attempt at verisimilitude. This is part of the reason that Fielding and Sterne were such pioneers, since clearly they hoped that readers would be interested in lengthy works that were unabashedly fictional.
Yes. I knew the citations might not be real. In fact, I actually flipped over to Amazon and checked out a few of the more likely sounding ones to see if the books existed. (They did.) I did not read all the footnotes, but sometimes the content led me to check where it had come from, in the sense of, "Well, that can't be real!" It was very hard to tell.
I know of no other novel that uses citations this way. Saunders cited George Plimpton's book on Edie Sedgwick as an influence since it is a collage of voices, some of which contradict each other. It's nonfiction, however. Supposedly. It's an interesting technique. Not mind-blowing like Nabokov's idea to hide a novel in the endnotes to a lengthy poem, but imaginative and rewarding.
I would like to start talking about the ghosts and other aspects of content, but I don't want to produce spoilers so I'll wait until Guillermo joins the conversation.
: First, I want to think about the citations
: or quotations from LitB.
: When you first come to them, they give you
: an impression of 'reality', a sense that
: this is the reporting of true events. But I
: didn't just start reading yesterday, so I
: know they might not be real. Other authors;
: particularly, I think, early authors; have
: used various devices to make the text seem
: 'true'. So these might be real or might be
: fictional. I'm not an academic, so I'm not
: going to check all the citations. I wouldn't
: know some were real and some were not if I
: hadn't read the questions for study groups
: or whatever it's called. I assume a certain
: degree, if one can speak that way, of truth.
: I assume Saunders is interested in Lincoln
: and has read a few books about this, that he
: knows the basic story, so even if he makes
: up all the quotations, there is still a
: basic truth to history in them. I imagine
: that the historical sources really do
: sometimes contradict each other and that
: that amuses Saunders and that he plays with
: Did you actually read all the citations? I
: probably read the first four and then maybe
: one from time to time, and I noticed the
: shorter ones. How do they affect my reading
: of the story? Not much really. I suppose
: they make one feel that the story is
: connected to the 'real' Abe Lincoln.
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