I followed a link on Tobias Buckell’s site, and it led me to a wonderful time sink in the form of this library of letters. I literally spent three or four hours tooling around and reading interesting bit after interesting bit. Completely fascinating. If you go there, I suggest scanning the archive to discover those things that would be most interesting to you. I’m sure you’ll find something.
Here are a few of my faves:
Bob Dylan – Let Me Begin by Not Beginnin: I absolutely loved this letter both for its timing–Dylan was just growing into the fame he was to wear for the rest of his life, and for the lyrical elegance of his language–the fact that he writes his own frame of mind in his own dialect.
Bob Dylan – I do not apologize for myself nor my fears: Dylan’s commentary on Lee Harvey Oswald is a piece of history that I was either unaware of or hadn’t tucked away in memory deep enough. To hear this man in his early twenties discuss the fallout of his freeform, conversational speech that included such a hot topic is extremely interesting…and again, his use of language is beautiful.
Jourdon Anderson – To My Old Master (Written August 1865): An emancipated negro responds to a letter from the man who once “owned” him.
Jarm Logue – Wretched woman! (written 1860): This is the post Toby originally linked to. Another letter from a slave who had found his freedom, and was later contacted by a previous “owner,” this time a wife of the master, asking (incredibly) for money.
John Cleese – John Cleese vs. the Sun: Cleese is, of course, wicked funny. Can’t think of anything he’s done that doesn’t have some kind of an edge to it–this included, of course.
Go read more.