Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Union Square & Company has published The World’s Greatest Love Letters: 800 years of Literary Romance. “Many famous men and women of the past are remembered today almost exclusively for the love letters they wrote, or that were written to them… The World’s Greatest Love Letters celebrates the love letter as a literary form, and love itself as an emotion that draws out from the lovestruck humor, pathos, poignance, charm, wit, and other attributes that distinguish and define humanity. The letters [in this volume] represent… many of the greatest expressions of love ever committed to paper,” writes Stephan Dziemianowicz in the introduction. The letters have been organized into the following sections: refined love, unrequited love, playful love, reverential love, adoring love, married love, married couples, long-distance love, mad love, bad love, love on the rocks, and the world’s greatest lover.
Below is a selection from the book, a letter written by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) to his wife, Olivia (Livy) Langdon. Twain married her on February 2, 1870, when he was 34 years old, and a famous bohemian author, and she was 24 years old, from a very strict, religious background. (Letters written by Mark Twain often come up for auction and can sell from $5,000 to $50,000.) This letter was written on November 27, 1875 to mark her 30th birthday.
Six years have gone by since I made my first great success in life and won you, and thirty years have passed since Providence made preparation for that happy success by sending you into the world.
Every day we live together adds to the security of my confidence that we can never any more wish to be separated than that we can ever imagine a regret that we were ever joined. You are dearer to me to-day, my child, than you were upon the last anniversary of this birth-day; you were dearer then than you were a year before—you have grown more and more dear from the first of those anniversaries, and I do not doubt that this precious progression will continue on to the end.
Let us look forward to the coming anniversaries, with their age and their gray hairs without fear and without depression, trusting and believing that the love we bear each other will be sufficient to make them blessed.
So, with abounding affection for you and our babies, I hail this day that brings you matronly grace and dignity of three decades!
S. L. C.
ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.
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