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Absence of mind

Letter writing is no longer a way of life. We have lost a way of thinking

By Vivian Gornick   June 2013

Calvino’s letters reflect his rich imagination and engagement with the world (© Getty Images)

The Selected Letters of Willa Cather eds. Andrew Jewell & Janis Stout (Knopf, £25)

Italo Calvino: Letters 1941-1985 ed. Michael Wood (Princeton, £27.95)

Here and Now: Letters  2008-2011 by JM Coetzee and Paul Auster (Faber, £20)

When I was young, in the 1950s, everyone wrote letters. The schoolteacher, the insurance agent, the social worker; the businessman who read, the lawyer who travelled; my romantic mother, our no-nonsense neighbour: all conducted an often large and varied…

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