We invite you to letter writing evening at the Main Library on November 29th. It made me think, read and write letters. Here’s one for you.
Oslo, November 24, 2018
I am writing this letter because I do not remember when I wrote a letter last. I write many e-mails every single working day and on the phone short messages are sent back and forth all the time. I seek work through internet portals, I like my illustrators Instagram images or retweeter texts from authors I think more should read. But, when did I put down pen and paper to write a letter last? I’m pretty sure I’m not alone to not do it so often …
There are many kinds of letters and over the years some letters have received enormous significance for world history. Others may not have had anything to say to anyone other than the two who have written to each other. Important people have written letters to other important people, many have written to their loved ones and children have written to their heroes. An example of the latter is seven-year-old Amy Corcoran who sent a letter and a gift to Roald Dahl . The gift was a bottle of her dreams and colored water, oil and glitter. In Shaun Usher’s remarkable letter , we can read Dahl’s answer:
I have to write in particular to you and thank you for the dream in the bottle. You are the first person in the world to send me such a dream and I think it was very exciting. Besides, I enjoyed the dream. Tonight I will go down the village and blow it in the window of a sleeping child and see if it works.
Roald Dahl (signed)
Getting a bottle filled with dreams belongs to the rarities, but the biggest example of an attachment is found in a letter from Jack the Ripper , also reproduced in Usher’s book. In the letter to George Lusk, who was still chasing him, the Ripper sent a piece of kidney to one of his victims, claiming to have fried and eaten the rest. Fortunately, this is a big exception. Usually you write about what you have experienced lately and how to do it. To comment on the weather is of course also important.
Here at Deichman the fall has come too far, the leaves have fallen and the cold sat in the walls. The corridors are empty and cold, and once upon a time the silence of a group on the tour breaks. Outside the windows, the sky is high and gray. The ekeberg yield disappears under something similar to cotton. If it gets too cold you can pull down the trays and run the stairs again. And it’s just where I’ve been earlier today in the magazines to find some correspondence. There are quite a few less amazing letters that are also taken care of.
That Olav H. Hauge is a habitable writer is to undermine, but it is nevertheless obvious that his correspondence with Bodil Cappelen would be printed and made available to anyone to read. The letters extend over five years, from the very first letter Cappelen sent him, several years before she first met, until she moved into him and they later marry. In the very first letter she writes:
Dear Olav Hauge,
I got up this morning thinking about a room furnished with books from floor to ceiling. Do not be surprised when I write this to you and you do not know me – it’s over, you can meet in a letter as well as on the street. […]
Well – Maybe you’re not of those who write letters? I am used to that. Unfortunately, in our TV time, it is true that people no longer write to each other.
Fortunately, he responded to her letter, and they wrote openly about the years passed. Letters 1970-1975, first published 1996 two years after Hauges’s death, has been read by many, and if it writes Mette Karlsvik : “Letters form a narrative, they build up under excitement, it is a love story of the great, fine type one here read about. It’s pure love, that one can read in that letter. “And just that this close-up occurs, it’s good to read for our outsiders too. Of course, it was not the intention when Cappelen wrote the first trying letters, but it has become so.
Now I have to run before this letter gets too far. There’s a lot more I want to share and many more books I want to tell about, but that’s not enough. Ultimately I will invite you all to letter lettering at the main library . We open our beautiful main hall in the evening of November 29th and hope for an evening of pen, paper and many words. We have also invited some musicians to play, so it’s all a moodful experience and a break from an otherwise busy digital life. Hope to see you!
With warm greetings from
Nora Nordskar Hoel.
PS! The letters on the pictures are from Deichman’s own archive, and show letters sent to Director Haakon Nyhuus around the turn of the turn of the century. The pictures are taken by me.