My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It was from “A Way with Words” a public radio show about the English language, including the origins of words, the usages, and good books that I came to know this lovely book. It’s a stupendous compendium of letters from the famous and the ordinary from the ancient to the modern with beautiful photo copies of the letters reproduced in the book. The letters span the whole range of human emotions from kindness, passion, love, joy to heartbreak, anger, disappointment, and longing as the contents of the letters reveal the writer’s’ innermost thoughts, feelings, and emotions through the vehicles of pen and paper.
Reading each of the letters made me feel deeply touched by the universality of humanity and reflective of the human nature manifested in writing without prejudice on the grounds of appearances and social standings, which influence our perceptions of individuals. Readers can find lots of very interesting letters in this book. Of all the letters in the book, the following three letters resonate in my mind: (1) E. B. White’s letter to his gentleman acquaintance regarding the importance of having hope for humanity; (2) Anaïs Nin’s rebuking letter to a faceless collector of her co-authored “Erotica” for his demand of more prevalent racy contents; and (3) a nameless German woman’s letter to her husband asking him to take her back home from a dreadful mental hospital she was in. It was so heartbreaking to read her brief letter to her husband that I could feel her pain, fear, and sadness alone in the grim place… I commiserated with her….
Mr. Usher in his foreword states that if the readers are inspired to put pen to paper by reading the letters in the book, his intention of compiling the book will be fulfilled and greatly appreciated. That’s a very noble intention and sublime aspiration in this digital age. This book is a lovely work of art which the readers will never tire of.