W. B. Yeats never touched a machine and insisted on a good pen. But he was not only dyslexic, a poor speller and careless about punctuation; in the frenzy of composition, be it poetry or prose, many words were left unfinished and sometimes even perplexing.
The internet promises not only easy reading but encourages a hasty reply and is immediately disposable. Personal letters are often kept, sometimes for decades; even years later there is something alluring about them. Writing a letter takes time and thoughtfulness; it provides a sense of ‘being in touch’, gives a fresh meaning to the word correspondence, and demands some element of formality, if only in salutation and signature. It is also more mysterious, when even the occasional illegibility or misspelling evokes personality. Who are these people, what were they feeling? What did they have to say that was so important to communicate? [continued…]