I spoke to Poggioli about you, at Harvard. He would like to have you there for six months or a year, and this is an opportunity you should not refuse. Even though Harvard is not America, but a kind of Olympus containing the intellectual cream from all over the world, you would have the chance to see a bit of America traveling around. And one should not let slip any chances of “talking” to the Americans, of doing something to bridge this abyss which divides us, and it really is an abyss: this is a different world, as far from Europe and our problems as the Moon.
If there is one thing more depressing than reading other people’s old letters it is reading one’s own.
Presenting a Literary Lovefest
Friends of The Millions! Today is Valentine’s Day, and that means it’s time for your humble editors to show you how much we love… well… love. And because most (or all) of us are naturalized citizens of Bookland, we figured the best way to do that is to show you our favorite love letters. Think F. Scott Fitzgerald, Abelard, James Joyce and Sylvia Plath. Think wild yearnings, unrestrained lust and a slight, slight hint of the kinky. Think, in other words, of amazing writers in love.
To that end, we’ll be posting excerpts throughout the day right here on our lovesick Tumblr. If you’re looking to join in, post an excerpt of a letter we left out and tag it #Love of The Millions. We’ll post it ourselves if we like it. Why? Because we love you, of course.
One (women’s of course) magasine which considered publishing one chapter finally demurred (in frightened awe) but wanted my ‘picture’ and what of my life I cd spare: if you are a writer, they don’t want to buy and print yr writing, but rather a picture and what you eat for breakfast, &c. But then good God! that’s what the book’s about—It’s difficult not to strike a pose, for being ‘eccentric’ enough to try to get across that: What do they want of the man that they didn’t find in the work?
For a novelist, writing letters is writing that is not writing … But a collection of letters is the unconscious narrative the author generates over the years.
No. 1, “The Grand Epiphany Ending”: “Gatsby believed in the green light, but sitting out among the quiet whisperings of the shore I had a different sort of revelation: Sometimes life is easy, but sometimes it is hard.”
No. 2, “The Bourgeois Hardship Ending”: “Out there in the dark with the moon rising high over the Sound I thought about Gatsby and his big, rambling house. It turned out to be true what they said—you never really get what you expect. I shrugged and left.”
No. 3, “The Ending Ending”: “Ferryboats stirred across the Sound and disappeared toward the horizon. Gatsby had seen something strange and new in this untrammeled land, but contemplating it now I could only think one sad, unvarnished thought. We are born, we eat a lot of lunches, and then we die.”
Martha Gellhorn’s pen pals included Eleanor Roosevelt, Maxwell Perkins, H.G. Wells, her husband (later, ex-) Ernest Hemingway, and Peggy Schutze, my maternal grandmother.