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The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time

The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time - David Lowenherz A fine if slight collection and a fun read. Can't say I consider them all the greatest, but enough to make four stars. And it's a colorful distraction from winter grays and a cozy read by a fire.

A handful are love pissed or lost letters, and I especially enjoyed the chapter Fire and Ice with its slings and arrows. As in Marcel Proust to Daniel Halevy: "You gave me quite a little thrashing, but your switches are so flowery that I can't be angry with you and the fragrance of those flowers has intoxicated me enough to soften the harshness of the thorns. You have beaten me with a lyre."

And this from James Thurber to Eva Prout: "I'm not blaming you. I'm blaming the ages of women gone before you who handed such legacies down, blaming the radiant and sparkling and fidgety ladies of history who kissed in a moment of coquetry and saw men die, kings dethroned and nations fight in blood because of that careless caress. Men are fools, weak, wine-blooded, deeply devoted darn fools. What have women done for them half so intense and potent as what they have done for them?"

And Anais Nin to Henry Miller: "Everything would be all right if you wrote the right kind of letters. But you write the worst letters, letters bad enough to estrange anyone. I have never seen more expressionless, pan-faced letters. The real distance and separation were always created by your letters."

Sounds prissy, but he was such a prick. And she may be right. None of Henry's letters made the cut.

But my personal favorites are Jack London to Anna Strunsky and John Rodgers to Minerva Denison, the former for its utterly frank and irresistibly poetic approach, the latter for the impossibly eloquent 18th century language.

Highly recommended for romantics.