letters of note

Shaun Usher is the blogger behind the relatively new site, Letters of Note. He provides a very interesting look at history through "correspondence deserving of a wider audience." Everyone from Jeff Buckley to Jack the Ripper have letters posted. Here are a few particularly neat-o ones:

Ghandi to Hitler

September 1st, 1939: Poland is invaded by Germany, resulting in what many believe to be the beginning of World War II. Just over a month before this happens, Mahatma Gandhi writes the first of two letters to Adolf Hitler in an attempt to prevent the oncoming war. This particular letter never reaches Hitler due to an intervention by the government. More information here.


As at Wardha,
C. P.,

Dear friend,

Friends have been urging me to write to you for the sake of humanity. But I have resisted their request, because of the feeling that any letter from me would be an impertinence. Something tells me that I must not calculate and that I must make my appeal for whatever it may be worth.

It is quite clear that you are today the one person in the world who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to a savage state. Must you pay that price for an object however worthy it may appear to you to be? Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success? Any way I anticipate your forgiveness, if I have erred in writing to you.

I remain,

Your sincere friend

M. K. Gandhi


Philip K. Dick to the production company for the film Blade Runner

Blade Runner, a movie still regarded by many as the greatest science fiction film ever made, was based on the novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep. Its author, Philip K. Dick, had been extremely apprehensive of a future adaptation but wrote the following letter to the film's production company after catching his first glimpse of the movie during a television programme. He passed away just 5 months later, 4 months before the movie was released.


October 11, 1981

Mr. Jeff Walker,
The Ladd Company,
4000 Warner Boulevard,
Calif. 91522.

Dear Jeff,

I happened to see the Channel 7 TV program "Hooray For Hollywood" tonight with the segment on BLADE RUNNER. (Well, to be honest, I didn't happen to see it; someone tipped me off that BLADE RUNNER was going to be a part of the show, and to be sure to watch.) Jeff, after looking --and especially after listening to Harrison Ford discuss the film-- I came to the conclusion that this indeed is not science fiction; it is not fantasy; it is exactly what Harrison said: futurism. The impact of BLADE RUNNER is simply going to be overwhelming, both on the public and on creative people -- and, I believe, on science fiction as a field. Since I have been writing and selling science fiction works for thirty years, this is a matter of some importance to me. In all candor I must say that our field has gradually and steadily been deteriorating for the last few years. Nothing that we have done, individually or collectively, matches BLADE RUNNER. This is not escapism; it is super realism, so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing that, well, after the segment I found my normal present-day "reality" pallid by comparison. What I am saying is that all of you collectively may have created a unique new form of graphic, artistic expression, never before seen. And, I think, BLADE RUNNER is going to revolutionize our conceptions of what science fiction is and, more, can be.

Let me sum it up this way. Science fiction has slowly and ineluctably settled into a monotonous death: it has become inbred, derivative, stale. Suddenly you people have come in, some of the greatest talents currently in existence, and now we have a new life, a new start. As for my own role in the BLADE RUNNER project, I can only say that I did not know that a work of mine or a set of ideas of mine could be escalated into such stunning dimensions. My life and creative work are justified and completed by BLADE RUNNER. Thank you..and it is going to be one hell of a commercial success. It will prove invincible.


Philip K. Dick

J.D Salinger to Mr. Stevens, a young fan


Oct. 21, 1962

Dear Mr. Stevens,

I must tell you first, offputtingly or no, that I am at best a one-shot letter writer, these days. Along with that, I really never have anything to say when I`m done writing fiction at the end of a day. One thought, and one only, hits me about your letter. Entirely "materialistic," I'm afraid. You need a new typewriter ribbon. Get one or don't get one, but unless you make an effort to deal with things as unabstractly as that, you're stewing quite unnecessarily. You've decided that Things are what matter to people. Of course. Not only with "people" but with you, too. Everything in your letter is a thing, concrete or abstract. Avidya and vidya are things. For me, before anything else, you're a young man who needs a new typewriter ribbon. See that fact, and don't attach more significance to it than it deserves, and then get on with the rest of the day. Good wishes to you.

(Signed, 'JDS')

Many, many more letters can be read here.

1 comment:

stan said...

i love salinger's note. priceless.