The second chapter discusses Françoise de Graffigny’s Letters from a Peruvian Woman (1747) and Isabelle de Charrière’s Letters of Mistress Henley (1784). Responding to Nancy Armstrong, the chapter shows that Graffigny and Charrière subvert their period’s fascination with letters as means of affirming the larger significance of small domestic interactions and events. Instead, these two epistolary novelists treat the physical smallness of these letters as a metonymy of their protagonists’ similarly limited scopes of material presence and experience. At the end of both novels, the protagonists no longer look to their letters as measures of their ambitious hopes of being heard and understood. The letters reflect, instead, their frailty and finitude as beings who expect such attention from others.
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