I don’t know whether it is a hereditary characteristic, but our little family is altogether too prone to lie awake at nights hating ourselves for stupidities—technical or verbal or whatever—and to let careless, cruel remarks fester until they blossom in something like ulcer attacks—I know that during these last days I’ve been fighting an enormous battle with myself.
Posts Tagged: letters
Franz Kafka’s letters reveal how the author’s father impacted his writing and his life, and a relationship fraught with fear. Kafka worried about his father’s “intellectual domination” creating an environment of “emotional tyranny.” Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova finds in Kafka’s letters a deeply haunting father-son relationship:
What I would have needed was a little encouragement, a little friendliness, a little keeping open of my road, instead of which you blocked it for me, though of course with the good intention of making me go another road.
I shall worship her with quiet dignity. I shall draw her attention to me by exploits, success, and possibly a small measure of fame,” wrote a young, romantically inclined Jack Kerouac to a friend in one of a cache of letters by the Beat author that has come to light.
In 1906, aged 21, D.H. Lawrence wrote to his future fiancée Louise Burrows with writing advice after reading an essay on art she’d sent to him. Among many other remarkable lines, the British author told Burrows that “[l]ike most girl writers you are wordy” and suggested not being “didactic; try and make things reveal their mysteries to you, then tell them over simply and swiftly, without exaggerating as I do....more
For the New York Review of Books, Edward Mendelson writes about the second volume of Ernest Hemingway’s letters (1923-25), published by Cambridge University Press:
What makes the book revelatory is not its biographical detail but the spacious view it gives of Hemingway’s mind at work in his long, eager, and unguarded letters to boyhood friends.
Here is the problem in writing letters to your kids—perhaps especially as a writer, who has arguably spent her entire professional life writing letters to everyone who isn’t her kids: How do you suddenly start writing in a grand literary fashion to two small people whom, heretofore, you pretty much have only talked to as follows: “Did you brush?” “Did you wash your hands?” “Did you put it in the hamper?” and “Don’t flush it before I can see it.”
Peep here for a meditation on writing letters to your little Yous, and to read missives sent from the likes of Fitzgerald, Vonnegut, and Sexton to their offspring....more
It turns out that French poet Charles Baudelaire wasn’t very fond of his compatriot Victor Hugo. Despite having the novelist’s support when prosecuted after publishing Les Fleurs du Mal, the poet may have secretly despised (or perhaps just envied) Hugo—in a newly discovered letter from Baudelaire to an unknown correspondent, he calls the writer “stupid” and an “idiot.”...more
The Public Domain Review flips through Darwin’s unusual photo collection and his correspondence with neurologist James Crichton-Browne. The correspondence between Darwin and Crichton-Browne led Darwin to write The Expression of Emotions of Man and Animals. Darwin found Crichton-Browne’s help so invaluable that he even wanted to list the neurologist as the book’s co-author (an offer Crichton-Browne politely declined)....more
Paper notes and postcards have all but joined rotary phones and singing telegrams in the history books of communication. Email and text messages might have the advantage of speed (and sometimes playful naughtiness), but neither can compensate for the tangible quality of a physical letter....more
Nora Crook, in perhaps the most exciting click ever to happen on the internet, made the discovery of a lifetime when she came across previously unpublished correspondence from the late Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. The article at The Guardian describes several letters written by Shelley shortly before her death....more
I started trawling through books, visiting local museums and exhibitions and navigating various online archives, looking for examples of interesting correspondence, and, within a few days, I’d found so many fascinating documents – letters, memos, telegrams – that I was hooked.
We’re sending our next Letter For Kids from Michael Reisman!
Michael is the author of the Simon Bloom Series, which follows the story of the title character who finds a book that lets him control the laws of physics. Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper is currently being optioned by Universal Pictures....more
We’re sending our next Letter in the Mail from Ray Shea on October 15!
Ray Shea has contributed to two of our Readers Report Back: Running Away and Neighborhood. His piece “Neighborhood Watch” was a nominee for a Pushcart Prize and he has been published in The Citron Review, fwriction : review and ARDOR Literary Magazine....more
The next Letter in the Mail is from none other than Lauren Eggert-Crowe.
Lauren is the author of two poetry chapbooks. Some of her other work has appeared in Salon, The Nervous Breakdown, and L.A. Review of Books....more
The next Letter for Kids, going out August 15, is from Carolyn Cohagan! (It got switched with Elisabeth Dahl’s letter due to a printing error, so it’s going out later than expected, but it’ll still be awesome!)
A former stand-up comic and stage performer, Carolyn has also directed plays and two short films....more
Maria Popova of Brain Pickings has featured a 1925 letter from Ernest Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald, in which Hemingway describes his personal conception of heaven (after playfully guessing at Fitzgerald’s).
As an added bonus, check out the snapshot of Scott and Ernest palling around in Paris....more
When a book is read, the story is transferred from the writer to the reader. Occasionally, however, the reader is allowed a glimpse into what the author may have been thinking through letters or interviews.
When George Orwell wrote Animal Farm, it was primarily meant to be “a satire on the Russian Revolution.” But there was a little more to it than just that....more
Since its publication in 1948, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson has become an American classic, appearing in high school classrooms, as well as in the hands and on the computers of people around the nation.
On the 65th anniversary of the publication of “The Lottery,” Ruth Franklin at the New Yorker discusses the 300+ letters, most of them negative, that came pouring in—“the most mail [the New Yorker] had ever received in response to a work of fiction.”
Franklin details some of the angry and bewildered responses from readers, including some amongst the New Yorker’s staff....more