the letter writer with a menu of choices for all parts of the letter brought to

The letter writer with a menu of choices for all

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the letter-writer with a menu of choices for all parts of the letter, ‘‘brought to its logical conclusion the tendency in the genre of making the act of writing a letter an automatic procedure.’’ ³⁰ Although early on in The English Secretary Day does invite his readers to pick and choose from among his enormous inventory of salutations and greetings, sub- scriptions and superscriptions appropriate ‘‘for everie estate of calling,’’ the handbook on the whole does not encourage formulaic or automatic writing. Day does not theorize a ‘‘living model of the letter,’’ as Erasmus does, but the rhetoric of social relation he delineates is no less reliant on a writer’s inventiveness and capacity to apply a exible decorum. Day accents the creative invention that is customarily deployed in the every- day prosaics of letter-writing, an artistry by no means limited to fi gurat- ive ornamentation. Instead, it is on display in the eloquent elaboration of social relationship, or – to borrow Jonathan Goldberg’s terms – in how ‘‘the space of writing’’ is made to serve as ‘‘an index of social relations.’’ ³¹ Day’s reluctance to tie social relation to particular formulas or parts of the letter is evident in his statements about negotiating equal or symmetrical relations: ‘‘And being in familiaritie is to no place tied, but beginning, middle, or ending of the Letter, all is one, as seemeth most consonant to the vaine & disposition of the partie, and these also at all times not delivered in the selfe worde of greeting or commendations, but by diverse Epithets, and fi ne conveiances, as falleth out to the matter of the Epistle, and the conditions of the partie to be handled’’ (  ). In The  Eloquent relations in letters
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English Secretary , as in the complicated practice, at least among the ruling elite, of Elizabethan letter-writing, not only ‘‘familiaritie’’ but social relation in general ‘‘is to no place tied.’’ Day’s extended treatment of request-making exempli fi es this more subtle fi guring of social relation. As with Erasmus, Day’s epistolary rhetoric resembles Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory in its classi fi - cation of letter types into speech-act categories. A deeper resemblance to Brown and Levinson’s theory of how social relations are constructed in language emerges as Day suggests that style should vary not only with the correspondents’ relative power but also with the riskiness of verbal actions undertaken: And in asmuch as these Epistles are so named, for the earnest petition or requests in everie of them contained, and that the variety of thinges are such to be demanded, and mens conditions so divers, at whose handes or from whom the same are to be received: It therefore falleth out by consequence that according thereunto the maner of the Epistle must needs also be divers and variable. For some things ther are which favorably and with great indi ff erencie,
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