Letters and Secrets
I was wandering around the bookstore while my brother was loading up on school supplies (it was him, not me, I swear!) when I chanced upon the bargain bin and found two hardcover books that happened to be on my wishlist: The Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle, and PostSecret: The Secret Lives of Men and Women compiled by Frank Warren.
In the first Sex and The City movie, Carrie reads a book entitled “Love Letters of Great Men,” prompting hundreds of SATC fans to rush out to the bookstores to get a copy of the book. Apparently it didn’t exist, and so someone had the brilliant idea of putting a book together, hence it is now an actual book.
Love Letters of Great Men is a compilation of the declarations of love of famous personalities:, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Lord Byron, Mozart, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Robert Browning, Charles Darwin, Henry VIII and many more. Most of the letters appeared as
Here are some snippets:
“You will not believe what a longing for you possesses me. The chief cause of this is my love; and then we have not grown used to be apart. So it comes to pass that I lie awake a great part of the night, thinking of you; and that by day, when the hours return at which I was wont to visit you, but my feet take me, as it is so truly said, to your chamber, but not finding you there I return, sick and sad at heart, like an excluded lover.” – Pliny the Younger to his wife Calipurnia
“Nothing on earth, madam, can charm, beyond your wit but your beauty: after this not to love you would proclaim me a fool; and to say I did when I thought otherwise would pronounce me a knave; if anybody called me either I should resent it; and if you but think me either I shall break my heart.” - playwright George Farquhar to Anne Oldfield
“Adieu — my love — my only one. Do catch them in the air — those 2999 1/2 little kisses from me which are flying about, waiting for someone to snap them up. ” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to wife Constanze
“You could give yourself to another, but none could love you more purely or more completely than I did. To none could your happiness be holier, as it was to me, and always will be. My whole existence, everything that lives within me, everything, my most precious I devote to you, and if I try to ennoble myself, that is done, in order to become ever worthier of you, to make you happier.” – German poet Johann Cristoph Friedrich von Schiller
“O sweetest of all boys, most loved of all loves, my soul clings to your soul, my life is your life, and in all the world of pain and pleasure you are my ideal of admiration and joy.” – Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas
and my personal favorites:
“I have not spent a day without loving you: I have not spent a day without embracing you. I have not drunk so much as one cup of tea without cursing the pride and ambition which force me to remain apart from the moving spirit of my life.” - Napoleon to Josephine
“You will only expect a few words. What will those be? When the heart is full it may run over; but the real fullness stays within… Words can never tell you… how perfectly dear you are to me — perfectly dear to my heart and soul. I look back and in every one point, every word and gesture, every letter, every silence — you have been entirely perfect to me — I would not change one word, one look. My hope and aim are to preserve this love, not to fall from it — for which I trust to God, who procured it for me, and doubtless can preserve it. Enough now, my dearest own Ba! You have given me the highest, completest proof of love that ever one human being gave another. I am all gratitude — and all pride… that my life has been so crowned by you.” – Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“You — my Life — my All — farewell.
Oh, go on loving me — never doubt
the faithfullest heart
Of your beloved
- Ludwig Van Beethoven, to his unnamed beloved
It’s a lovely collection; I wish people still write and talk like this. And I think the publisher scored a coup by addressing the demand for this book.
Meanwhile, PostSecret: The Secret Lives of Men and Women is the third PostSecret book in my collection. I’d been lusting after PostSecret books for years, but it wasn’t until Christmas 2009, when Peter drew me in the FFP exchange gift, that I got my own copies of the books (PostSecret and PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God).
PostSecret (if you’re not familiar with it yet) is a community an ongoing community mail art project where people make their own postcards, write their secret on it, and mail it to Frank Warren, who publishes it on the PostSecret site. The books (there are five) are compilations ofthe postcards sent to PostSecret.
The anonymity of PostSecret is empowering, I think — people are able to share anything, from tales of mundane embarassment to secrets of the deep, dark variety, to complete strangers, without revealing their identity, or being judged (at least directly) for their confession.
For the reader, there is also something appealing about being privy to other people’s secrets — a secret isn’t juicy until it is shared! But deeper than that, the secrets mirror emotions that all humans can relate to, regardless of race or gender or social standing.
Here’s a look inside the book:
I just love PostSecret! Reading secrets is an experience in itself: you wonder who these people are, imagine the lives they lead, and share in the myriad of emotions revealed in their confessions. Plus, the books are beautifully produced, and each book is like a compact art exhibit you can neatly stow away on a shelf!
Three PostSecret books down — I hope I chance upon the two other books soon!
Love Letters of Great Men, hardcover with dust jacket, 4/5 stars
PostSecret: The Secret Lives of Men and Women, hardcover, 5/5 stars
Books #19-20 for 2011