Today we text message. We post messages on our Facebook or MySpace. We email, instant message, or call our beloved. And although it would be a mistake to judge these modes of communication as being better or worse than the love letter, one cannot help but think, and be awed, that for centuries the only means for two to send words of love was through the letter. Though there is poetry, though there are sonnets, plays, and novels without end expressing romantic love, for some reason the love letter holds a dear precious place in our hearts. Perhaps we remember our first love letter and through that remembrance of times past personalize the experience of reading the letters of another. Perhaps it is the concise passionate intensity of it. So much of one's heart in so short a space. Ink with the passion of one intoxicated by love.
Whatever it may be, we are drawn to it time and again. And in that fascination, Everyman's Library has taken passion of lovers and loved from the past centuries, for us to voyeuristically behold. Choosing to embrace all the nuances of love, rather than a single dimension, E.L. presents humorous love (G.K. Chesterton to Frances Plogg), intoxicating love (Keats to Fanny Browne), erotic love (Ann Hamilton and Barbara Villiers to Lord Chesterfield), deeply sad love (Nadia Mandelstam to Osip Mandelstam), and of course all consuming love(Bernard Shaw and Stella Campbell; F. Scott and Zelda). Through these letters, one sees love not as the construct of the imagination of an author, or poet, or playwright. Through these letters one sees love in all its living, breathing beauty and reality. This book does not idealize love. It does not have to. Love, as it exists in reality, is more beautiful, more perfect than any fancy any artist could conjure up. It is perfect not in spite of its flaws and pains and disappointments. It is perfect because of its flaws and pains and disappointments. In this book one reads of the joys and pains, the victories and defeats, the winters and springs of true love. In this book, filled with true love from true lovers, one sees that love is not perfected in books or art; it already exists perfect in life.