Introduction: Letter from an Unknown Woman

  • Edward Gallafent
Part of the Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television book series (CRFT)


Most of this book consists of close readings of four films, and I begin by outlining my approach to them. The object that the first word of my title brings to mind may well be the package that comes in the mail or, in grander contexts, the missive, the epistle. I look at how such letters are treated in the films, but I shall be engaging with other meanings of the word as well. ‘Letters’ of course also means the characters of the alphabet, and the use of the word extends to refer to anything written or printed in letters, any text, sign or inscription. I approach the films via the meanings I derive from the treatment of words we see in the course of their narratives, those written by hand or printed or incised. I also look at particular moments in which words are dramatised: they are being read out, or we watch them being written or both of these things happen in succession.


Close Reading Opening Sentence Intimate Exchange Chalk Board Hollywood Film 
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  1. 1.
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  19. 27.
    According to the editors of the published script, there was an additional line in the shooting script at the end of Lisa’s speech on parting from Stefan at the station: ‘But not quite all of you…the child, our son, was born in a charity hospital.’ See Virginia Wright Wexman and Karen Hollinger (eds), Letter from an Unknown Woman (Rutgers Films in Print Series Vol . 5) (New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1986), p. 146.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Edward Gallafent 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Gallafent
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickUK

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