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Laura25
05-12-2006, 09:12 AM
Letter writing; correspondance between literary and or other figures has long interested me. I am keen to know what my fellow forum contributors think will happen to this style of literature (collected letters) given the advent of our ""e- lifestyles"". Does any one ever print or in some way keep any of the threads that interest them most? Do correspondence collections have any merit or are they just a bougoise fancy? Two of my favourites are Kingsley Amis's and, dare I admit it, Plath's. Will this type of literature be dead forever given that e mail exchange does not have staying power of a hard copy?

Virgil
05-12-2006, 09:14 AM
Actually the telephone I think caused the end of real letter corresponsence. Emailing may actually revive it, albeit in a different form. Of course the messages may not survive. They may just get swallowed up into the virtual atmosphere.

mono
05-12-2006, 02:12 PM
Hello, Laura25, welcome to the forum. :)
With historic authors, often the admiration given to them comes with time, and with time, their letters corresponding to many other individuals suddenly appear, further attributing to their life struggles, literature, achievements, etc. No doubt, letter correspondence still most likely occurs, yet probably not as frequently as in the past since, as Virgil mentioned, the invention of telephones and intangible letters through e-mail, disappearing at the press of a button.
If you enjoy reading letters, I highly recommend those of Emily Dickinson - rich with poetic wisdom! :nod:

Petrarch's Love
05-12-2006, 02:30 PM
I'll start by saying that I think e-mail is great. For one thing it's much better to receive typed correspondance from someone with the kind of illegible handwriting I have :lol:. I've also been impressed with how we're now able to communicate instantly with people all over the world both by e-mail and in places like these forums, and it's invaluable for business communication, or work like the freelance editing I did last summer.
All the same, I do love writing and receiving actual, snail mail letters, but I have very few friends who are still willing to exchange them with me (in fact almost none at the moment). One drawback to e-mail is that people are so brief in it. You seldom get really long, thoughtful, descriptive missives online. I also often wonder about the ephemeral quality of electronic communication. We're increasingly putting all our history, both social and personal into a virtual place that may not even be used 100 years hence. For now, I've got an e-mail folder with old e-love letters rather than a shoebox of papers tied in ribbon, and printouts of typed correspondance bordered with URL's and dated to the minute of arrival in my inbox rather than carefully folded pages of lines written by a dear departed friend. To paraphrase our poem of the week, something there is that does not love an e-mail. ;)

rachel
05-12-2006, 03:15 PM
I passionately believe in snail mail and all the social graces. I think to take the time to pick out just the right stationary, add a touch of scent, do your very best in penmanship,pour out your heart and love into the script all these things are wondrous beautiful to me.
I even have a seal and beeswax, so I seal the envelope and then stick it in another.
As a matter of fact I make my own stationary and hand paint in watercolors or oils and even water varnish my envelopes. then, if I haven't sealed it I apply ribbon and tie it. I grew up doing that, calling cards even were important, and I still do.
Email is a great way though to get the message quickly to the person, especially if there is an urgency involved.
Once in a long while I dig out old correspondence and instantly I am transported back in time and can smell what I smelled then as I read, cookies baking-the warm flower scented spring rain. An old letter can make me cry.
I have mixed feelings about reading author's letters from long ago to their loved ones. I feel rather voyaristic and an intruder on the one hand. On the other I am enchanted and get to know the person better.

amanda_isabel
05-12-2006, 03:50 PM
i must say that here in the philippines the postal service is horrible. that's why im thankful that e-mail exists. sometimes you just receive your letters and the envelopes are opened, especially if they are from abroad. the guys at the post office like to check if there's cash in the letters, and if not, more often than not they just throw it away. not to mention it takes more than a month here for the mail to get from point to point. this is unless you use the express 'padala' (sending) which costs a fortune. our postal service here isnt reliable, so thank goodness emails came along.

rachel
05-13-2006, 10:54 AM
how DARE they. how I wish all people were noble and honest. that is such a violation of people's privacy. shame on all of them

ShoutGrace
05-13-2006, 11:04 AM
I even have a seal and beeswax, so I seal the envelope and then stick it in another.
As a matter of fact I make my own stationary and hand paint in watercolors or oils and even water varnish my envelopes. then, if I haven't sealed it I apply ribbon and tie it. I grew up doing that, calling cards even were important, and I still do.

I wouldn't doubt this for a second, Rachel. I don't know you as well as some here but it is certainly a pleasant image, and a fitting one, that of you taking time out of your life to personally make others' more enriched.


I have mixed feelings about reading author's letters from long ago to their loved ones. I feel rather voyaristic and an intruder on the one hand. On the other I am enchanted and get to know the person better.


I wonder if some authors specifically state that they either do or do not want their letters published, and whether or not those wishes are respected. I suspect that sometimes family members acquire and publish old letters for financial gain.

Petrarch's Love
05-13-2006, 02:35 PM
I even have a seal and beeswax, so I seal the envelope and then stick it in another.
As a matter of fact I make my own stationary and hand paint in watercolors or oils and even water varnish my envelopes. then, if I haven't sealed it I apply ribbon and tie it. I grew up doing that, calling cards even were important, and I still do.
How lovely Rachel. Recipients of your letters must be truly happy. I have a seal and wax too (several different colours of wax in fact)! I don't make my own stationary though. I do have some beautiful Florentine stationary that, alas, I hardly ever get to use because hardly anybody seems to want to exchange letters with me. I recently lost one of my few remaining penpals to the temptations of the ease of internet communication (oh well, at least we're still corresponding in one way or another, I guess that's what's important).

ychustla6
05-13-2006, 03:25 PM
In my opinion, The complete letters of Vincent Van Gogh are the most interesting, overlooked and underrated set of letters ever to be compiled and published. They are so easy to read and written so well. Whoever started this thread needs to check them out.

The Unnamable
05-13-2006, 03:47 PM
In my opinion, The complete letters of Vincent Van Gogh are the most interesting, overlooked and underrated set of letters ever to be compiled and published. They are so easy to read and written so well. Whoever started this thread needs to check them out.
I agree. They are well worth a spin.

cuppajoe_9
05-13-2006, 06:02 PM
The Salmon of Doubt includes Douglas Adams' e-mails and faxes to his publisher, movie producers and others.

Petrarch's Love
05-13-2006, 06:30 PM
In my opinion, The complete letters of Vincent Van Gogh are the most interesting, overlooked and underrated set of letters ever to be compiled and published. They are so easy to read and written so well. Whoever started this thread needs to check them out.

Thanks for the recommendation. His letters have been on my reading list for ages. Maybe I'll make a point of getting around to them this summer.

Redzeppelin
12-27-2006, 11:20 AM
The Death of Letter Writing is a terrible loss, and symptomatic of our increasingly impersonal relation with the world outside our door. Yes - email is fast and convenient - perhaps too fast (any of you who have fired off an angry email like myself know the drawback of this feature ;) ).

Email is fine, but it still seems so temporary; unless I do resort to printing it up, it doesn't really exist and could essentially disappear. The physicality of a letter is very different - even than a printed up email. And, I'll go even further - typed letters are more impersonal than handwritten (legibility aside). There is something special about an individual's handwriting - like there is a bit of that person on the page. And, as Rachel nicely illustrated, letter writing is an act of creation, not just communication - which is what I think email essentially is: communication. Earlier posts talked of the letters of past literary/artistic figures - that form of literature is probably long gone dead, primarily because we don't see letter writing as creation, but simply communication - just the facts, ma'am.

And, a final rant: as an English teacher, I am horrified by the butchering of language that "texting" has created (though I fully understand the necessity) - which again points to it as communication rather than creation.

Laindessiel
12-27-2006, 11:51 AM
Although the "e-lifestyle" IS easier especially in our fast-paced life - it has gotten into every single one of us - nothing beats emotion using our hands. Handwritten letters are undeniably the sincerest form of communication or, as Rachel and Red said, creation. Studies say that the curves in the letters by writing with your hands creates a sort of flow of social emotion; and it is simply conveyed by the personal touch of the writer. I think the feelings the writer wants to give is most genuine and most simonpure when you see and read those flawed curves and arcs marked by, uh, like you say, erroneous writing, still it expresses deep emphasis on what the writer wants to convey. Nothing beats PERSONAL TOUCH like nothing beats seeing the light.

Triskele
12-27-2006, 02:48 PM
i agree with lain... although i think perhaps what we are doing may be another form of the letter... perhaps the key is written, not spoken, with the written word you can think about what you say before you say it better... this results in conversations i think that are more... crafted?

Redzeppelin
12-28-2006, 03:49 PM
I would agree with that last point - and I would further add that handwriting requires more thought because it is a higher "commitment" in terms of changing thought. With a screen, I press "delete" and it's gone - but with handwriting, well there is no way to completely remove the mark, and I think there's something in that. E-communication is so unstable precisely because it can so easily disappear. I like Lain's comment (oops - seems so familiar of me without a proper introduction :) ) about the "flow of social emotion" - the physical act of touching the paper with an instrument guided by a living hand does something that typewriter keys (the modernist/post-modernist symbol of impersonality) and "virtual words" cannot duplicate - sort of like the "ghost in the machine" idea.

Am I just getting metaphysically weird, or did that make any sense? :rolleyes:

Yelena
12-31-2006, 11:56 PM
I like that "ghost in the machine" metaphor :)
Even handwriting (type, etc) can actuallly add to the meaning of the written words.

tantus
02-19-2007, 05:12 PM
Writing a letter seems a much more serious business than writing an e-mail to me. You have to sit down and contemplate its concept, which may take some time. Whereas if writing an e-mail, you may just fire away - delete and edit as you wish.
I think the most apparent differences crop up if comparing a love letter to a love email (which alone sounds grotesque and which I'd never even consider to write):

First the email is much too impersonal; it does not show your handwriting, which is quite important to me, since it shows, apart from the content, how much one has made an effort (in my case: if you do not need to have a special training in cryptography, I definitely did make an effort :-)

Secondly it is quite another thing to open a letter, pull out its sheet(s) and hold it in your hands than just have the click-login-click-read-close procedure. What I mean is; a letter is existent, whereas an email exists just virtual and thus is of lesser value.

Stick to letter writing!

Redzeppelin
02-28-2007, 12:56 AM
Writing a letter seems a much more serious business than writing an e-mail to me. You have to sit down and contemplate its concept, which may take some time. Whereas if writing an e-mail, you may just fire away - delete and edit as you wish.
I think the most apparent differences crop up if comparing a love letter to a love email (which alone sounds grotesque and which I'd never even consider to write):

First the email is much too impersonal; it does not show your handwriting, which is quite important to me, since it shows, apart from the content, how much one has made an effort (in my case: if you do not need to have a special training in cryptography, I definitely did make an effort :-)

Secondly it is quite another thing to open a letter, pull out its sheet(s) and hold it in your hands than just have the click-login-click-read-close procedure. What I mean is; a letter is existent, whereas an email exists just virtual and thus is of lesser value.

Stick to letter writing!


I agree with all of this. With our current state of e-communication, a letter almost seems scandalously personal.

zanna
02-28-2007, 01:43 AM
Haha, I've enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts, and I keep nodding my head, because I agree. One of my "aunts" often sends me a cards, with a neat pictures on the front, and her handwritten letters inside. They are so much fun to read, and I try to respond with a letter. I also am familiar with the emotional attachment thing. I sent my uncle, who was deployed overseas at the time, a simple letter (it was hard to know what to say), and got a short note back, on some graph paper ripped out of a small calender book he had. It was tiny, with tiny print, all caps, but all the special emotion was there. What a comfort it was, to have something from his own hand. While it is nice to talk to someone on a telephone, too, and hear their voice, letters are wonderful, because, as many have said, you can pull them out whenever you feel like it to reread them again.

quasimodo1
02-28-2007, 01:58 AM
Letter writing is not dead but it's pulse is low. I still write letters via computer,copy,stamp,send. When you need to get an audience with someone, nothing has them captured like dedicated purpose letter. Still use legal pads and carbon paper for archives. People still love them and wish they got more of them. Still e-mail will have it's classics eventually once people realize that thier natural spontaniety and peculiar word patterns have a value intrinic. It is just a new genre or writing, perhaps overused because of the instant gratification tendency and general impatience with the old tools. RJS