Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love Letters: Kurt Vonnegut

We seem to be getting farther and farther away from that Keatsian love that is so utterly romantic in every over-used sense of the word. But here I share some snippets of letters written by Kurt Vonnegut (this book just came out and I'm dying to read it!).

To his first wife/high school sweetheart while away for work (they later separated, but I like to think this isn't just word fluff):
Dearest Jane:
Your charming package of messages arrive this morning, made my love and loneliness acute. Such pang. I'm a homesick little boy. . . . There are alleys everywhere. I had forgotten how romantic alleys are.
This is a very unique "love" letter, and I think it still counts for our purposes. Vonnegut wrote a lovely letter to his students that was instructions for their term papers. I can't think of a better way to tell your students that you care about their work, progress, labors of love than a letter instead of instructions:
This course began as Form and Theory of Fiction, became Form of Fiction, then Form and Texture of Fiction, the Surface Criticism, or Hot to Talk our of the Corner of Your Mouth Like a Real Tough Pro. 
. . . .
I want you to adore the Universe, to be easily delight, but to be prompt as well with impatience with those artists who often your own deep notions of what the Universes is or should be. "This above all..."
. . . .
The grades should be childishly selfish and impudent measures of your own joy or lack of it. I don't care what grades you give. I do insist that you like some stories better than others.
. . . .
[Write not] as an academic critic, nor a person drunk on art, nor as a barbarian in the literary market place. Do so as a sensitive person who has practical hunches. . . . Be yourself. Be unique. Be a good editor.
Lovely, yes? I very different idea of love letters is starting to form in this series, and I have to say,  I very much like it.

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