Marilynne Robinson Writing Styles in Gilead

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As it is used in literary criticism, the word, genre, according to A Handbook to Literature designates “the distinct types or categories into which literary works are grouped according to FORM or technique or, sometimes, subject matter.” But the distinctions between genres may not always be absolute, since a given work can draw from various types or categories of writing to achieve the desired effect. Gilead is a work of fiction, a novel, yet it clearly has features of other kinds or types of writing. The novel reads as though it is a collection of private letters or one long private letter to one person, written piecemeal over time, a text intended for only one reader, the writer's son. This feature makes the work sound like a private document, one never intended to be published and read by a wide audience. The sense...

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