I wanted to bring your attention to this surprisingly insightful quote on love and literature.

It comes from an Icelandic author who’s won awards for his books.

This writing style is the forerunner to epistolary books and novels.

For quite sometime I couldn’t remember the name of this type of writing.

Not until I ‘fooled’ myself into remembering it by thinking of ‘A-Pistol-Larry’ when I needed to.

Now, I can’t forget.


Anyway…

The love and literature quote is based on an answer Bergsveinn Birgisson, the author of REPLY TO A LETTER FROM HELGA (2011), gave circa 2014.

The book was so good they made it into a movie too. See below…

What I love most about the entire quote is that it is based on the epistolary style of writing which Birgisson used for Letter From Helga.

REPLY TO A LETTER FROM HELGA is written as a series of letters from an old farmer to an old flame. Hence, epistolary style.


Picture of cover below…


Anyway…

Here’s the quote from the interview with Birgisson;


QUESTION:

What does framing the story in this very old form, the epistolary novel, achieve?

ANSWER (The Quote):

“Every day, we are inundated with Hollywood love stories that leave everything visible on the surface. I think that in real life, the “repressed” love story, the love story that is never allowed to breach the surface, is just as common.

However, it’s more of an untilled field, and it makes us wonder if the actual urge to love isn’t mixed with wishful thinking or self-flagellation.

A love story told from within required a first-person, subjective narrative, and the epistolary form was a good way to represent the closeness between the lovers.”

Bergsveinn Birgisson author of REPLY TO A LETTER FROM HELGA (2011)

WHAT I GET FROM THIS QUOTE:

Letter writing is personal. Intimate.

Reveals the “untilled fields” that everyone has inside them.

A unique challenge for the writer when connecting with the reader.

And in 2024, letter writing is nearly gone and completely antiquated.

I remember being in my 20s and writing to my best friend across the country.

We had phones of course, but they were plugged into the wall and we were rarely home when it rang. Letters were guaranteed to get read – as long as they arrived.

So, I was reminded of this nearly dead literary form when reading the severely under recognized book… THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield – written in epistolary style.

The War of Art – A Quote For Every Creative Person

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Are you someone who writes, paints, plays an instrument, sings, dances or participates in any creative endeavor? OR are you one of the very few who creates and makes a full time living doing it? Wherever you are on the spectrum of creativity this quote is worthy of some cogitation.

Read full story


ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF REPLY TO A LETTER FROM HELGA (2011):

Bergsveinn Birgisson (b. 1971) published his first novel in 2003, Landscape is Never Corny which received a nomination for the Icelandic Literary Prize the same year.

Bergsveinn’s second novel, published in 2009, Manual on the Mentality of Cows, was described by critics as one of the funniest novels in years.

Bergsveinn has also published three books of poetry. He holds a PhD in Nordic Studies from the University of Bergen, where he currently lives.

Bergsveinn Birgisson – Icelandic author

In fact, REPLY TO A LETTER FROM HELGA was so good they made it into a movie

SYNOPSIS

Bjarni has long held onto a letter from former lover Helga, with whom he shared an illicit, impassioned love and whom invited him to leave his wife and his farm and follow her to the city.

Years later, as he reflects on a long and simple life shepherding in the Icelandic hillsides, he finally finds himself ready to explain why.

With retrospective clarity and poetic affection, Bjarni pens his Reply to a Letter from Helga, weaving a life of longing for Helga’s sensual presence and the visceral pleasures of daily exposure to the elements.

He has knowingly avoided the glamorous choices of modern living and taken comfort in the measured cadence of nature’s cycles—and thus he reduces the human condition to a series of mating seasons, passed on the land toiled by his forefathers.


Thank you for reading. I wish you much imagination…

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