Letters embedded within other works

text letter div

More details on encoding embedded letters, a special case of embedded texts.

Letters in general have a structure which is easily accommodated within the TEI div element. They begin and end with a set of fairly predictable components (date, location, salutation) which may be encoded within the opener and closer elements at the start and end of the div, and they contain paragraphs and other features which are permitted within div. The typical encoding of a letter within a collection of correspondence would be div type="letter", unless it was desirable to capture more detailed metadata which would require a full TEI header.

However, letters sometimes occur in contexts where div is not permitted. A letter may be quoted within a novel, a footnote, an introduction, or other contexts where the letter interrupts the flow of prose rather than representing part of an already granular structure. In these cases, the letter must be encoded within a text element. This text element may go within a quote element, if the letter is being quoted. If the letter is simply presented to the reader as part of the flow fo the text (as in a novel), then the text element should be nested directly inside a separate p element.


A letter which appears within a chapter of a novel:

<div type="chapter">
<p>[The chapter begins...</p>

<p>Eugenia started up from her bed at the sound of the bell, and
waited with ill-suppressed impatience as the maid’s footsteps mounted
the stairs. In another instant she had the awaited letter in her hand,
and was devouring it with eager eyes. It read as follows.</p>

      <div type="letter">
<salute>My Dearest Eugenia,</salute>

<p>I have been feeding the chickens all day and unable to write; I
dare say you think me a dreadful cad. Shall you think me one redoubled
if I say that my avian responsibilities will prevent me, alas, from
attending your card party tonight? Say not, sweetest, and forgive one
who hopes to convince you to be his forever,</p>



<p>Eugenia flung the letter into the chamberpot in disgust as the
scales dropped at last from her eyes...</p>

[more text, we hope]