To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing

To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing


By (author) MR Simon Garfield

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  • Publisher: GOTHAM BOOKS
  • Format: Hardback | 464 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 218mm x 33mm | 635g
  • Publication date: 14 November 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1592408354
  • ISBN 13: 9781592408351
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 575,351

Product description

The "New York Times" bestselling author of "Just My Type" and "On the Map "offers an ode to letter writing and its possible salvation in the digital age. Few things are as exciting--and potentially life-changing--as discovering an old letter. And while etiquette books still extol the practice, letter writing seems to be disappearing amid a flurry of e-mails, texting, and tweeting. The recent decline in letter writing marks a cultural shift so vast that in the future historians may divide time not between BC and AD but between the eras when people wrote letters and when they did not. So "New York Times" bestselling author Simon Garfield asks: Can anything be done to revive a practice that has dictated and tracked the progress of civilization for more than five hundred years? In "To the Letter," Garfield traces the fascinating history of letter writing from the love letter and the business letter to the chain letter and the letter of recommendation. He provides a tender critique of early letter-writing manuals and analyzes celebrated correspondence from Erasmus to Princess Diana. He also considers the role that letters have played as a literary device from Shakespeare to the epistolary novel, all the rage in the eighteenth century and alive and well today with bestsellers like "The Guernsey Literary ""and""Potato Peel Pie Society." At a time when the decline of letter writing appears to be irreversible, Garfield is the perfect candidate to inspire bibliophiles to put pen to paper and create "a form of expression, emotion, and tactile delight we may clasp to our heart."

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Author information

Simon Garfield is the author of fourteen acclaimed books of nonfiction including "Just My Type "and "On the Map." He lives in London and St. Ives, Cornwall.

Review quote

Praise for Simon Garfield's "To the Letter" "Stuffed with marvelous anecdotes, fascinating historical tidbits and excerpts...[Garfield's] epistolary ardor proves infectious." "--""The New York Times Book Review " "Garfield's masterstroke is to intersperse his historical sections with a series of letters written by an ordinary British couple... With Chris and Bessie it is the sheer, unclouded openness that captivates... his book is a shining success." "--""Sunday Times" "A wonderfully elegant history." "--""Observer" "Fascinating ... provides a moving and illuminating insight into a world that will soon be far from our own." "--""Herald" "Garfield is a best-selling writer of irresistible enthusiasm....[His] robust and propulsive engagement with letters as an essential embodiment of the human spirit and a driving cultural force makes for exciting reading and thoughtful speculation about the future of scholarship and communication." "--""Booklist" "Garfield's knowledge is wide and his enthusiasm endless." "--""The Times" "Wonderful... One of the things which makes this book so attractive is Garfield's enjoyment of his subject. He writes with a winning informality and freshness... Apart from its author's erudition and stylishness, the great strength of this book - the aspect of it which conveys most poignantly what we are losing as letter writing becomes a thing of the past - lies in Garfield's use of a correspondence between two unknown people." "--""Literary Review" "This endlessly informative book from one of Britain's best non-fiction writers provides a heartfelt reminder of just how much we'd lose... the book serves up any number of vivid examples from people famous and unknown" "--""Reader's Digest" "Read this brilliant account of a lost art... and weep... such fun... engaging" "--""Mail on Sunday" "He offers hope for the letter as a form of writing - thoug