Below, Samuel Johnson writes to close friend James Elphinston, whose mother had recently passed. “I read the letters in which you relate your mother’s death to Ms. Strahan,” confides Johnson, “and I think I do myself honour, when I tell you … Continued
What is a murderer’s conscience compared to the stinking dung pit in the back of my head?
Indeed I am grieved on your account that I am not at the same time happy—But I conjure you to think at Present of nothing but pleasure—“Gather the rose, etc.”—gorge the honey of life.
It doubtless seems somewhat strange that I am writing you, since (in the greatness of your generosity) you have given me the possibility of seeing you so often. But always in your presence I feel the imperfection of my language like a sickness that separates me from you even at the moment when I am very near.
…I feel as if an ever darkening sky over our present world had been suddenly pierced, the clouds rolled back, and an almost forgotten sunlight had poured down again. As if indeed the horns of Hope had been heard again, as Pippin heard them suddenly at the absolute nadir of the fortunes of the West. But How? and Why?
…there are whole legions of novelists I’ve never read and who I think of as ‘modern’, like Doris Lessing. My mind has stopped at 1945, like some cheap wartime clock.
Walker Percy here writes to fellow Shelby Foote about the reception of his new novel, Love in the Ruins. A dystopian satire about a genius, lapsed-Catholic inventor and his “lapsometer” (a kind of “stethoscope of the soul” that can read a person’s … Continued
And—dieu le sait—there are few enough people on this stupid little island who know anything beyond Verlaine and Baudelaire—neither of whom is the least use, pedagogically, I mean.
To be your friend, a good close friend, is not complicated by neurotic demands. This is unusual. Maybe you don’t know it, damn it … but there aren’t many around like you (not any).
Is the gentleman you intend to marry financially solvent? Can he take care of you when he gets old like me? How long have you been keeping company with him, or did he ask you to marry him when you met him first time last evening in the elevator? Why didn’t you let me know about him before? I might have been able to give you some advice. This is all so sudden…