Willemijn Ruberg, Utrecht University. Translated by Maria Sherwood-Smith
Egodocuments are cherished because of the view they supposedly provide into the innermost feelings of individuals in past and present. Recent research, however, has shown the complexity of genres like autobiographies, diaries and letters. Building on critical and historical research into autobiographical writing, this book describes epistolary practices of the Dutch elite in the period 1770-1850. Analysing how cultural ideals of sincerity, individuality and naturalness influenced the style and contents of letters, the book also addresses the functions of letter writing in family life, like the formation of an adolescent identity and the relationship between parents and children. Correspondence was a vital means by which class and gender identities were performed and the appropriate emotions were shaped.