To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing

By Simon Garfield

The New York Times bestselling writer of Just My Type and On the Map offers an ode to letter writing and its attainable salvation within the electronic age.

Few issues are as exciting—and in all likelihood life-changing—as getting to know an previous letter. And whereas etiquette books nonetheless extol the perform, letter writing appears to be like disappearing amid a flurry of e-mails, texting, and tweeting. the new decline in letter writing marks a cultural shift so substantial that during the long run historians could divide time now not among BC and advert yet among the eras while humans wrote letters and after they didn't. So New York Times bestselling writer Simon Garfield asks: Can whatever be performed to restore a tradition that has dictated and tracked the growth of civilization for greater than years?

In To the Letter, Garfield strains the interesting historical past of letter writing from the affection letter and the enterprise letter to the chain letter and the letter of advice. He presents a young critique of early letter-writing manuals and analyzes celebrated correspondence from Erasmus to Princess Diana. He additionally considers the position that letters have performed as a literary equipment from Shakespeare to the epistolary novel, the entire rage within the eighteenth century and alive and good at the present time with bestsellers like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. At a time whilst the decline of letter writing seems to be irreversible, Garfield is definitely the right candidate to encourage bibliophiles to place pen to paper and create “a kind of expression, emotion, and tactile satisfaction we may possibly clasp to our heart.”

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The white-lilies are in blossom, and the john’swort and goldenrod are commencing to pop out. previous humans say that we've got no longer had so hot a summer time for thirty years. a number of people have died consequently of the warmth, Mr. Kendal, maybe, for one. The Irishmen at the railroad have been obliged to go away off their paintings for numerous days, and the farmers left their fields and sought the coloration. William Brown of the bad home is lifeless, the person who used to invite for a cent – ‘Give me a cent? ’ i ponder who may have his cents now! i discovered a pleasant penknife at the financial institution of the river this afternoon, which used to be most likely misplaced through a few villager who went there to wash in recent times. the day before today i discovered a pleasant arrowhead, which used to be misplaced your time prior to by means of an Indian who was once looking there. The knife used to be a really little rusted; the arrowhead was once no longer rusted in any respect. you want to see the solar upward push out of the sea earlier than you come back domestic. i feel that big apple are not within the approach, in case you climb to the pinnacle of the hill – at the least, not more than Bolster Island, and Pillow Hills, or even the Lowlands of Never-get-up are somewhere else. don't imagine you need to write to me simply because i've got written to you. It doesn't persist with in any respect. you wouldn't clearly make goodbye a speech to me right here in a month as a letter will be. but if it slow it may be completely effortless and delightful to you, I will likely be very comfortable to have a sentence. Your outdated acquaintance, Henry Thoreau a couple of days later Thoreau wrote to Harrison Blake, a writer pal in Worcester, Massachusetts, with whom he corresponded for 12 years. His tone had replaced: he was once now preachy, transcendental and idealistic, and his admonitions and directions looked as if it would replicate the arrogance of a brand new state. After beginning pleasantries, he embarked on a woody model of ‘Desiderata’. Be no longer apprehensive to prevent poverty. during this approach the wealth of the universe can be securely invested. What a pity if we don't dwell this little while based on the legislation of the very long time, the everlasting legislation! allow us to see that we stand erect the following, and don't lie alongside by means of our entire size within the airborne dirt and dust. enable our meanness be our footstool, no longer our cushion. in the course of this labyrinth allow us to reside a thread of lifestyles. We needs to act with so fast and resistless a objective in a single path, that our vices will inevitably path in the back of. The nucleus of a comet is sort of a celebrity. used to be there ever a real quandary? The legislation of earth are for the ft, or inferior guy; the legislation of heaven are for the top, or more desirable guy; the latter are the previous sublimed and improved, while radii from the earth’s centre cross on diverging into house. chuffed the fellow who observes the heavenly and the terrestrial legislations in precisely percentage; whose each school, from the soles of his toes to the crown of his head, obeys the legislations of its point; who neither stoops nor is going on tiptoe, yet lives a balanced lifestyles, applicable to nature and to God. In Blake’s later memoir, Thoreau’s correspondent stated that he by no means uninterested in re-reading his letters, and ‘I am apt to discover new value in them, am nonetheless warned and prompt through them, with extra strength sometimes than ever ahead of; in order that in a feeling they're nonetheless within the mail, haven't altogether reached me but, and won't most likely sooner than I die.

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