The manly art of letter-writing

The manly art of letter-writing

The Art of Manliness website (I kid not, check it out) says there are two kinds of letters (https://www.artofmanliness.com/2017/10/27/how-to-write-a-letter/). These are presumably manly ones, with whether the manliness stuff is tongue-in-cheek or not being never made clear (archness covering seriousness is most likely). Formal letters, it tells, are business and public ones, are rule-governed, typed, have addresses, dates etc; and informal letters are to family and friends, hand-written and more or less anything goes. If it aims to convey the conventions of formal letters, some of its ‘general’ rules are Americanisms, and a few are just wrong. But beyond this, two things stand out. One is that letter-writing is placed among the key ‘manly skills’, along with fly-fishing, backpacking with a baby and breaking your own nose among others. Is it all an elaborate piss-take? If so, why? If not, why like this? The other is that personal letter-writing is seen as operating in a kind of vacuum. Yes, there are ‘special purpose’ letters of condolence, congratulation etc which other pages go through, but apart from these it is just, tell of your life and ask about theirs. But surely the ‘manly’ position would be that the letter-writer should take their tone from the prior relationship that exists and draw from it guidelines as to what is proper and appropriate for that particular person.

 

Last updated: 30 November 2017


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