Every page fills me with a sick loathing
A Mixed Mailbag
There is no theme today. No intentional link. Merely a pile of letters that have caught my eye over the past few weeks—all of which I love. Thanks, all of you, for continuing to read and support this newsletter, and to those who have stopped, I telepathically say, “No hard feelings, honestly. It’s fine.”
What you ought to do is write you big lazy bastard. My god it is hard for anybody to write. I never start a damn thing without knowing 200 times I can’t write—never will be able to write a line—can’t go on—can’t get started—stuff is rotten—can’t say what I mean—know there is a whole fine complete thing and all I get of it is the bacon rinds. You would write better than anybody but the minute it becomes impossible you stop. That is the time you have to go on through and then it gets easier. It always gets utterly and completely impossible.
Thank God it does—otherwise everybody would write and I would starve to death.
Letter to Waldo Pierce, 1st Oct 1928
The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 2
It is a doubtful honor to produce one of the filthiest books of the year [Hemingway’s debut novel, The Sun Also Rises].
What is the matter? Have you ceased to be interested in loyalty, nobility, honor and fineness in life? Surely you have other words in your vocabulary besides “damn” and “bitch”—Every page fills me with a sick loathing—if I should pick up a book by any other writer with such words in it, I should read no more—but pitch it in the fire.
Grace Hall Hemingway
Letter to her son, Ernest Hemingway, 4th Dec 1926
The Young Hemingway
The longer I live, the more I am certified that men, in all that relates to their own health, have not common sense! Whether it be their pride, or their impatience, or their obstinacy, or their ingrained spirit of contradiction, that stupefies and misleads them, the result is always a certain amount of idiocy, or distraction in their dealings with their own bodies.
Letter to Mrs. Russell, 23rd Feb 1862
I Too Am Here
I have regrettably come to the conclusion that [our son] is not yet a suitable companion for me.
Yesterday was a day of supreme self-sacrifice. I fetched him from Highgate, took him up the dome of St Paul’s, gave him a packet of triangular stamps, took him to luncheon at the Hyde Park Hotel, took him on the roof of the hotel, took him to Harrods & let him buy vast quantities of toys (down to your account), took him to tea with Maimie who gave him a pound and a box of matches, took him back to Highgate in a state of extreme exhaustion (myself not the boy).
My mother said, ‘Have you had a lovely day?’ He replied ‘A bit dull.’ So that is the last time for some years I inconvenience myself for my children.
Letter to his wife, Laura Waugh, 25th Aug 1945
The Letters of Evelyn Waugh
Ever since your program went on television, my son Barry, who is 5, insists on watching every Batman program. He gets so excited watching Batman on TV that I have a difficult time getting him to bed when the program is finished.
If it isn’t too much trouble could you just once, at the end of the show say, “And now it is time for Barry Strauss to brush his teeth and go to sleep.”
It would be a big help.
A frustrated mother
Letter to ABC, 1966
Last night was so cold that the cat very affectionately got into bed with me—and brought along, in three trips, my fountain pen, a shell, and a button.
Letter to Marianne Moore, 27th Oct 1936
One Art: Letters
Tell him that if there’s any more nonsense I’ll put an erratum slip and change the name throughout to GOLDPRICK and give the reason why.
Letter to his publisher1
The Man with the Golden Typewriter
If I were to tell you all the things I do with your dear portrait, I think that you would often laugh. For instance, when I take it out of its case, I say, “Good-day, Stanzerl!— Good-day, little rascal, pussy-pussy, little turned-up nose, little bagatelle, Schluck und Druck,” and when I put it away again, I let it slip in very slowly, saying all the time, “Nu-Nu-Nu-Nu!” with the peculiar emphasis which this word so full of meaning demands, and then just at the last, quickly, “Good night, little mouse, sleep well.”
Letter to his wife, Constanza, 13th Apr 1789
The Letters of Mozart & His Family - Volume III
1. No photocopies.
2. It is considered bad form to enclose folding money. Money-off coupons are all right.
3. No verse. Your own would be embarrassing. You could quote, but do you trust your taste? Most love poetry is covert metrical bullying with a clear end in view. You might as well send condoms.
4. Trust the postman. Do not get her out of bed for a signature. A courier service looks a bit needy. Any accompanying gifts should be valuable but compact: that is, nothing that will need help to carry to the pawnshop.
5. Don't draw hearts at the bottom. Henry VIII used to do that, and look how his affairs ended up.
Rules for writing love letters
Fleming was responding to a complaint from architect Erno Goldfinger, who wasn’t pleased to learn that the new Bond villain had been named after him.