Reading Frankenstein after a few contemporary novels is odd because this book comprises letters and extended first person monologues. Not pages and pages of snappy dialogue that could be film script! (For example, I just finished The Eyre Affair which reads like a movie script; apparently the author wrote them for the industry before turning to novels.) The devices are so transparent. One character meets another and tells him he will tell him his story. Inside that narrative, he meets another character and that character says , “Wait! let me tell you my story.” The book does include bits of dialogue and action, but much less than one might expect. I’m a bit envious of the nineteenth century writer… why can’t I just tell everything in letter exchanges or long, retrospective first-person narratives? I suppose I could, but I also suppose it would be boring and/or trite.
I realize how little I know about the history of fiction or its progress, despite a few degrees that suggest I ought to. When did dialogue begin to take such prominence? I could tell you about stream of consciousness in Woolf or multiple narrators in Joyce, but I’m not sure about that more simple development.