A few days ago I came across this really nice blog called Letters of Note. This blog has regular posts with letters of famous authors, politicians and the like. Some sent to family members, others to newspapers, publishers, friends and partners. Now, if you like languages like I do, then I’m sure you will enjoy this blog as much. The style of writing and language used can only be described as eloquent. The topics range from funny to endearing, from sad to angry. I find it intriguing to read and realized that letter writing is a custom that is on the verge of extinction. Therefore, to celebrate the beauty of the written word I present you with a few of my favorite letters featured on the website and I will indicate why I like them.
On how to ask for more money from your parents, you should read this letter by R.L. Stevenson, author of Treasure Island. When reading his plea to his father you almost can’t see how anyone could tell him no. “I appeal to your charity, I appeal to your generosity, I appeal to your justice, I appeal to your accounts, I appeal, in fine, to your purse.” It’s almost poetic.
Another heartfelt letter comes from Henry James. When writing his depressed friend he gives her not only a good piece of advice on how to overcome her sadness, but does this with such style that just the writing makes it comforting to read. I am all for good quotes and here are some of my favorite lines from this letter:
Don’t melt too much into the universe, but be as solid and dense and fixed as you can.
… only I have a terrible sense that you give all and receive nothing—that there is no reciprocity in your sympathy—that you have all the affliction of it and none of the returns.
I believe we can go on living for the reason that (…) life is the most valuable thing we know anything about and it is therefore presumptively a great mistake to surrender it while there is any yet left in the cup.
[C]onsciousness is an illimitable power.
You are right in your consciousness that we are all echoes and reverberations of the same
The website also features a letter by Tolkien. In the letter he responds to a German company that would translate his books. They asked him whether he could prove he was Aryan and his reply shows a subtle display of anger while still managing to get the point across. “I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.”
The last letter I would like to highlight is a funny one. I am currently applying to jobs and I can only wish to be as witty as Mr. Robert Pirosh. A famous Hollywood screen writer, his way of sending out a letter of application is quite unique. No wonder he went on to win an Oscar.
Which fun websites did you find recently?