Thursday, January 26, 2017

The problem of letters …

… TLSHow poets write letters – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bishop was by no means the first to bemoan the death of the letter. Each new mode of message delivery, from the penny post to the telegram, has been seen to threaten the art of correspondence. Hugh Haughton, in Letter Writing Among Poets, suggests that Bishop’s inverted commas were a quiet acknowledgement that her statement was already a cliché. The fifteen essays in this volume consider letters written during the past two centuries, and shed light on the state of correspondence today. The editor, Jonathan Ellis, offers a gentle admonition to critics who mourn the “lost world” before the internet (in the words of Rebecca Solnit), a time when everyone wrote at length and thought in depth. The electronic communications disparaged by Solnit and other writers can be seen as a development of the desire to “connect people across time and space”, and one day may seem just as remarkable. Even so, the current nostalgia for letters has given rise to a number of books on the subject, both popular and academic.

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