Article

Letter Writing

Robert N. Hudspeth

in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195331035
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195331035.013.0021

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Letter Writing

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The letters the Transcendentalists wrote each other were a kind of literary performance; they were indirect and they were a verbal play. As the article explains, among the Transcendentalists, the reaching out to close ones was often accomplished through private, very personal letters. While all writers write letters, and many of the letters of the Transcendentalists memorable, even brilliant, the Transcendentalists distinguished themselves in this genre because their letters were often an art form in themselves, one that explored their most abiding concern to know the nature of a human self. However, the Transcendentalists seldom wrote about the “holy” in their letters. Even so, not all of their letters were literature, nor did every letter rise to significant intellectual occasions, for the mail was for the Transcendentalists as it was for the public at large, a means of conducting life's ordinary business. But letters were more than just life's business; they were also an opportunity to be creative.

Keywords: letter writing; human self; creative; conversation

Article.  5234 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers) ; Literary Studies (19th Century)

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