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snail mail

Snail Mail

                       
           

1932.  My Dear Jane Public,   Did you ever meet, or was he before your day, that old Gentleman — I forget his name — who used to enliven conversation, especially at breakfast when the post came in, by saying that the art of Letter-writing is dead? The penny post, the old gentleman used to say, has killed the art of letter-writing. Nobody, he continued, examining an envelope through his eye-glasses, has the time even to cross their t’s. We rush, he went on, spreading his toast with marmalade and film strips, to the telephone. We commit our half-formed thoughts in ungrammatical phrases to the post card. Gray is dead as is film, he continued; Horace Walpole is dead; Madame de Sévigné— she is dead too, I suppose he was about to add, but a fit of choking cut him short, and he had to leave the make-shift editing room before he had time to condemn all the arts, as his pleasure was, to the cemetery. But when the post came in this morning and I opened your letter stuffed with little blue sheets written all over in a cramped but not illegible hand — I regret to say, however, that several t’s were uncrossed and the grammar of one sentence seems to me dubious — I replied after all these years to that elderly necrophilist — Nonsense. The art of letter-writing and personal intimate filmmaking has only just come into existence. It is the child of the penny post. And there is some truth in that remark, I think. It is absolute and truest DIY, by example. Naturally when a letter cost half a crown to send, it had to prove itself a document of some importance; it was read aloud; it was tied up with green silk; after a certain number of years it was published for the infinite delectation of posterity. But your letter, on the contrary, will have to be burnt. It only cost three-halfpence to send. Therefore you could afford to be intimate, irreticent, indiscreet in the extreme. Bye (stay well).



This post first appeared on JANE PUBLIC THINKING, please read the originial post: here

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