Letters of Note

Site note: Problem with site, cached version here: Letter Of Note This is beautiful. Via Letters of Note: In May of 1993, deeply offended by its “blasphemous” content, a priest wrote to…

William S. BurroughsOn the always fascinating site Letters of Note:

Early 1957, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg travelled to Tangier to join William Burroughs; their mission to assemble and edit Burroughs’ many fragments of work to form a ‘readable’ Naked Lunch manuscript. Kerouac arrived early and, during a break from socialising with Burroughs, the ‘old familiar lunatic’, wrote to Lucien Carr and his wife Francesca in order to update them on the project’s progress. That handwritten letter — essentially a fascinating account of Burroughs’ behaviour in his prime — can be seen [here].

For related material — including other correspondence, manuscript pages and photographs — I very highly recommend visiting Columbia University’s online exhibition, “Naked Lunch”: The First Fifty Years.

Transcript here:

Dear Lucien & Cessa — Writing to you by candlelight from the mysterious Casbah — have a magnificent room overlooking the beach & the bay & the sea & can see Gibraltar — patio to sun on, room maid, $20 a month — feel great but Burroughs has gone insane as, — he keeps saying he’s going to erupt into some unspeakable atrocity such as waving his dingdong at an Embassy part & such or slaughtering an Arab boy to see what his beautiful insides look like …

On the fascinating site Letters of Note:

ABombAt 11:00 a.m. on August 9th, 1945, just a minute before the second atomic bomb in the space of three days was dropped on Japan, a B-29 bomber named The Great Artiste quietly dropped three canisters from the sky. Inside each of the canisters, alongside a shockwave gauge designed by American physicist Luis Alvarez, was an unsigned copy of the following letter.

The letter, written by Alvarez and two fellow scientists, was addressed to Japanese nuclear physicist Ryokichi Sagane —a man with whom Alvarez had previously worked at Berkeley — and pleaded with him to inform his ‘leaders’ of the impending ‘total annihilation’ of their cities.

The letter reached Sagane a month later after being found 50km from the centre of devastation: Nagasaki.

Alvarez and Sagane met again 4 years later, at which point the letter was finally signed.

On the fascinating site Letters of Note:

In December of 1944, whilst behind enemy lines during the Rhineland Campaign, Private Kurt Vonnegut was captured by Wehrmacht troops and subsequently became a prisoner of war. A month later, Vonnegut and his fellow POWs reached a Dresden work camp where they were imprisoned in an underground slaughterhouse known by German soldiers as Schlachthof Fünf (Slaughterhouse Five). The next month — February — the subterranean nature of the prison saved their lives during the highly controversial and devastating bombing of Dresden, the aftermath of which Vonnegut and the remaining survivors helped to clear up.

Vonnegut released the book Slaughterhouse-Five in 1969.

Below is a letter he wrote to his family that May from a repatriation camp, in which he informs them of his capture and survival:


From the great repository of correspondence Letters of Note: The furious written rant concerned the movie adaptation of Thompson’s novel, The Rum Diary, to which Sorensen’s studio had acquired the rights. Progress…