“Letters never sent”

Lately I have spent some time pondering the truth that millions of people are trying to keep friendships alive through vast geographic separation. The number of people using the Internet chats and e-mail can easily verify this fact. But in this era of « instant message equals instant gratification » I fear that we are losing one of our greatest literary art forms. I also realize that I am as guilty as most when it comes to writing a letter.
It is nothing but absolute laziness on my part !
I will openly admit that I still find something very touching in opening a letter and seeing the message conveyed in the particular handwriting of the sender. Knowing, as I read the message, that this person sat with pen, paper and some measure of forethought, to compose this message to me. It may simply be the realization that they have taken the time to do this that gives the composition its value.
However, I am also afraid that letter writing is rapidly becoming a lost art. We no longer feel the need to send more than a brief note via e-mail, perhaps mistakenly thinking that this act of acknowledgement is enough to maintain our relationships and friendships. Maybe it is enough, and yet, maybe we are simply not aware that we are losing one of our greatest forms of literary art.
The letters of Dylan Thomas, Mark Twain and many, many others would have been lost to us if they had used e-mail !
Would we know that in addition to being a brilliant military mind and feared ruler, Napoleon Bonaparte (1763-1821) was a prolific writer of letters ? He reportedly wrote as many as 75,000 letters in his lifetime, many of them to his beautiful wife, Josephine, both before and during their marriage.
We would of course still be aware of the great published works of French author and philosopher Voltaire. However, we would not know that he wrote a very tender letter to his sweetheart, Olympe Dunover, while he was imprisoned as a means to keep them apart.
The Hague 1713 :
« I am a prisoner here in the name of the King ; they can take my life, but not the love that I feel for you. Yes, my adorable mistress, to-night I shall see you, and if I had to put my head on the block to do it. » Voltaire (Shortly after, Voltaire managed to escape by climbing out of the window).
For three years, Victor Hugo and Adèle Foucher exchanged secret messages because their families were so opposed to their union. Hugo was promised a pension from Louis XVIII as a reward for his loyalty. This pension allowed the couple to marry. Their marriage lasted until Adèle’s death in 1868. (It was brought to my attention that Hugo was not faithful, this is not the point !).
There is much to be said about the written word. Letters on paper are tenderly placed away, tied with blue ribbon to be read again at a later time. I found letters recently written by my grandfather to my grandmother. These pieces of paper gave me a certain amount of insight into their relationship that I would not have known had it not been for the letters.
Do we do this with our e-mail messages ? No, the delete button is too close at hand, as is our desire to preserve the computer’s memory for more important things. (I have been known to stash away a particularly profound message, but I do not do this often.)
I realize that by bringing this observation forth, that our attitudes will not change, and that I will continue to send that e-mail message. But maybe I will add a bit more content and emotion to the text. Maybe I will take the time to convey some deeper part of myself. Maybe.
I think I will go now and write that letter. I may even send it by e-mail, but I will compose a bit more than I normally do. Maybe.

The ComtesseComtesse

Source : Off the cuff

NB Posez le curseur sur les mots soulignés pour afficher la traduction.

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Un commentaire pour “Letters never sent”

  1. Cowboy dit :

    You’re right and from now on, I won’t delete a single e-mail from you. I’ll copy-paste them onto Word and will « stash them away » in a safe place. I should have done that a long time ago. I’d have a couple of DVDs by now.

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