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|Cassandra and the letters
Written by Mary-L
(3/13/2003 12:49 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Re: Cassandra not burning letters.., penned by Leif G-n
Leif G-n: The letters range from very to somewhat readable, with a few (interlined or cross-hatched) almost impossible, but I keep a copy of Le Faye's Letters right at hand to make out the difficult spots. The great value of the facsimile letters, to me, is to see just how she wrote-- the dashes, the abbreviations, the punctuation, the way she shaped the words and letters, just as it came from her pen! They give such an aura of the real person, to me.
Yes, the book is expensive. I got it at James Cummins Booksellers (through ABE, I believe) and am totally delighted at its excellent condition, perfect dust jacket and all. And I deserve it!
] About Cassandra not burning the letters. She might not have. But she still destroyed many of them didn't she? At least D.Le Faye believes so in her 1995 edition of the JA Letters.
Yes, there are only 148 letters in Chapman's original list, although a few more have been discovered. But clearly, JA wrote a much greater number of letters to Cassandra, and others, that have never been found. Did Cassandra destroy some? I suppose it is possible, although she carefully preserved the ones we have today. I am persuaded by Modert's analysis that most of the missing letters were misplaced in moves or casually destroyed by the recipients. And I definitely believe that Caroline's recollection of what Cassandra told her-- about burning the letters, many years earlier-- was not correct.
]Or you don't mean that they could have survived and disappeared in some other way? Could there even be a chance that they still exist,laying covered in dust and cobweb in some attic,waiting to be discovered?
Modert's documentation often describes letters that were once in someone's collection and had been transcribed, but are no longer traceable. Over and over: "Present owner and location unknown." What a terrible loss! But one was discovered as recently as 1988, I believe! What are presented in this volume are facsimile's of all currently known letters, from many different collections.
Modert believed it was possible that more would be discovered as scholarship focuses more intently on the letters. The rather dismissive attitude of JA's descendants, that the letters wouldn't be of real interest to the public, steered researchers away from looking at them as an important resource. So dream on, Leif G-n!
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