Delmore Schwartz on writing letters

Today I ran into a paragraph written by Delmore Schwartz in a 1951 letter to his friend and publisher James Laughlin, and quoted by his biographer James Atlas in the preface to Delmore Schwartz: The Life of an American Poet. Over half a century later, it seems that the pleasures and dangers of writing letters, that lovely and forgotten art, have merely transmutated into the plasures and dangers of blogging:

It was pleasant to learn that you expect our correspondence to be read in the international salons and boudoirs of the future. Do you think they will be able to distinguish between the obfuscations, mystifications, efforts at humor, and plain statements of fact? Will they recognize my primary feelings as a correspondent — the catacomb from which I write to you, seeking to secure some compassion? Or will they think that I am nasty, an over-eager clown, gauche, awkward, and bookish? Will they understand that I am always direct, open, friendly, simple and candid to the point of naivete until the ways of the fiendish world infuriate me and I am forced to be devious, suspicious, calculating, not that it does me any good anyway?

What a masterstroke at the end: “not that it does me any good anyway”.

2 thoughts on “Delmore Schwartz on writing letters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s