Thursday, March 18, 2010

August Projects

From Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe

Emily received, about the same period, a much more interesting letter, and which soothed for a while every anxiety of her heart. Valancourt, hoping she might be still at Venice, had trusted a letter to the ordinary post, that told her of his health, and of his unceasing and anxious affection... In another part of his letter he wrote thus:

'You see my letter is dated on many different days, and, if you look back to the first, you will perceive, that I began to write soon after your departure from France. To write was, indeed, the only employment that withdrew me from my own melancholy, and rendered your absence supportable, or rather, it seemed to destroy absence; for, when I was conversing with you on paper, and telling you every sentiment and affection of my heart, you almost appeared to be present. This employment has been from time to time my chief consolation, and I have deferred sending off my packet, merely for the comfort of prolonging it, though it was certain, that what I had written, was written to no purpose till you received it. Whenever my mind has been more than usually depressed I have come to pour forth its sorrows to you, and have always found consolation; and, when any little occurrence has interested my heart, and given a gleam of joy to my spirits, I have hastened to communicate it to you, and have received reflected satisfaction. Thus, my letter is a kind of picture of my life and of my thoughts for the last month, and thus, though it has been deeply interesting to me, while I wrote it, and I dare hope will, for the same reason, be not indifferent to you, yet to other readers it would seem to abound only in frivolities. Thus it is always, when we attempt to describe the finer movements of the heart, for they are too fine to be discerned, they can only be experienced, and are therefore passed over by the indifferent observer, while the interested one feels, that all description is imperfect and unnecessary, except as it may prove the sincerity of the writer, and sooth his own sufferings.

Belle to J, 1 August 2008
... I fell asleep and when I woke it was 4 pm and I hoped very much that you were on your flight and taking off right on time at that moment. Then I thought, maybe I’ll write a few lines to you each day and mail them near to the time that you return...

Belle to J, 2 August 2008
...I miss you very much, but all day long the prospect of sitting and composing a few words to you gave shape to my day and kept you close to me. I am glad I have thought of this little project. And my handwriting is improving!...

Belle to J, 12 August 2008
My dearest love, Another overcast day, with threat of showers... Writing to you is the only thing that makes your absence bearable, to the point where I am reluctant to end a note for the day, because it means breaking from you...

Belle to J, 15 August 2008
... I have been so happy to write to you while you’ve been gone. It was the best thing for me to do in so many ways. It has been wonderful for me to engage in daily ritual acts of creation, and of devotion. I feel certain that you will love receiving this packet of letters, and I only hope that you don’t try to read it all in one gulp. If you do it will feel like you were hit by a freight train, when in fact I wrote bits at a time every day, and it all built...

Box Tops: The Letter
Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane,
Ain't got time to take a fast train.
Lonely days are gone, I'm a-goin' home,
'Cause my baby just a-wrote me a letter.

Catherine MacLellan: Set This Heart on Fire
I'm gonna sit right down
put my pen to paper...

Johannes Vermeer, A Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, c. 1657-1659
Johannes Vermeer, A Lady Writing, c. 1665-66
Johannes Vermeer, The Geographer, c. 1668-69

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