Charles Dickens Gave His Cat “Bob” a Second Life as a Letter Opener

≡ Category: History, Letters, Literature |Leave a Comment

Image via New York Public Library
Increasingly Facebook seems a virtual pet cemetery, with images of recently departed cats and dogs buttressed with words of heartbreak and consolation.

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‘You Are Done’: The Chilling “Suicide Letter” Sent to Martin Luther King by the F.B.I.

≡ Category: History, Letters |Leave a Comment

In November of 1964, Martin Luther King received a chilling letter, purportedly from a disillusioned member of the African-American community. “King, look into your heart,” writes MLK’s critic. “You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all of us Negroes.”
The letter then turns menacing.

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Sigmund Freud Writes to Concerned Mother: “Homosexuality is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of” (1935)

≡ Category: Letters, Psychology |Leave a Comment

Hank Green, hosting his Crash Course on Psychology, put it best: when we think of the study of the mind, we think of an old, bespectacled bearded man puffing on a pipe. We think, in other words, of Sigmund Freud, whether we know anything about him or not.

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William S. Burroughs Sends Anti-Fan Letter to In Cold Blood Author Truman Capote: “You Have Sold Out Your Talent”

≡ Category: Letters, Literature |1 Comment

On July 23, 1970, William S. Burroughs wrote Truman Capote a letter. “This is not a fan letter in the usual sense — unless you refer to ceiling fans in Panama.” Instead, Burroughs’s missive is a poison pen letter, blistering even by the high standards of New York literary circles.

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George Orwell Reviews a Book by That “Bag of Wind,” Jean-Paul Sartre (1948)

≡ Category: Letters, Philosophy |Leave a Comment

Yesterday we featured George Orwell’s review of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf — not just an isolated newspaper piece, or one of a scattered few, in a life otherwise spent churning out important novels like Animal Farm and 1984, but a particularly perceptive book review among the many in his prolific journalistic career.

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Ray Bradbury: “I Am Not Afraid of Robots. I Am Afraid of People” (1974)

≡ Category: Letters, Literature, Sci Fi, Technology |1 Comment

Anyone remember Michael Crichton’s Westworld (or the Simpsons parody)? In this dystopian 1973 sci-fi, tourists visit a triumvirate of fantasy theme parks staffed by robotic historical re-enactors: Roman World, Medieval World, and the titular West World, with its “lawless violence on the American Frontier.

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Wearable Books: In Medieval Times, They Took Old Manuscripts & Turned Them into Clothes

≡ Category: Design, History, Letters, Life |1 Comment

I like old newspaper, smoothing it out to read about what was happening on the day an older relative packed away the good crystal or some other fragile tchotchke.
Traveling in India, I dug how the snacks I purchased to eat on the train came wrapped in old book pages.

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T.S. Eliot Illustrates His Letters and Draws a Cover for Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

≡ Category: Books, Letters |1 Comment

Like so many poets, Thomas Stearns Eliot could write a fine letter. Unlike quite so many poets, he could also illustrate those fine letters with an amusing picture or two. The T.S. Eliot Society’s web site has several examples of what the author of “The Waste Land” could do when he got thinking visually as well as textually.

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George Harrison Wrote His Last Letter to Austin Powers Creator Mike Myers, Asking for a Mini Me Doll (2001)

≡ Category: Comedy, Letters, Music |Leave a Comment

In a band full of extroverted goofballs and pranksters, George Harrison was the quiet one, the serious Beatle, the straight man and introspective mystic, right? Not so, according to Travelling Wilburys bandmate Tom Petty, who once countered the “quiet Beatle” sobriquet with “he never shut up. He was the best hang you could imagine.

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Charles Bukowski Rails Against 9-to-5 Jobs in a Brutally Honest Letter (1986)

≡ Category: Letters, Life, Literature |6 Comments

Charles Bukowski—or “Hank” to his friends—assiduously cultivated a literary persona as a perennial drunken deadbeat.

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