Alice

Today's bookmark has surpassed this post as my favorite found letter:


Letter, dated January 8, 1952:

happynewyear:

I'm sorry we managed to elude each other so successfully during the recent brief holiday, but life was excessively traumatic.

Permit me to announce, at this time, the termination of the Romance of the Century... (not to be confused with the Greatest Fights of the Century, which is a television show on boxing)... which after an eventful three years and half, etc., etc.,

I am working. This time for the University. I am the receptionist at the Reading Institute for Children Who don't Know the Alphabet (in sanscrit) and retarded Adults. It is very dull here except when the children do some perverted thing like stop up the toilet, or walk through windows. Then it gets very interesting. The woman I work for is a bitch, and she hates me, but then so does everybody else. Every day, all over the world, mankind observes, religiously, fifteen minutes of hate Alice.

I saw George Broadfield for the first time in about two years the other night, and he bored the hell out of me for half an hour. What is left in life for me now, if even Broadfield is boring. He has, by the way, the East via, I suspect, a Tibetan fairy or something related. Anyway, he has decided that he is a Negro, and that he's going to South Africa like Augustine or somebody.

I have been having fierce pains in the stomach for about two weeks. It's probably psychosomatic, but I prefer to think that my brother has been feeding me large doses of ground glass in my rice crispies.

I once wrote you a  letter when you first wrote to Dave Green but I think I lost it. Or maybe I handed it to Wm. Riley Parker instead of a Milton paper. I haven't been to that class since that day, anyhow.

I still do not have a thesis, or even an idea, and I don't expect to have one.

What is Chicago. Do you the like U. Are you going to the U. I met somebody who knows you whose name is Pearl Weis-something. I don't think she likes you. She is divorcing her husband.

I had a nice christmas. I got presents and I got drunk. Write to me unless you're too busy or something.

alice


Found in "Collected Poems: 1909-1935" by T.S. Eliot. Published by Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1936.


-Click to enlarge photos-

25 comments:

Reading Rambo said...

Good Lord. That is the most pessimistic but awesome letter.

BrittanyGale said...

Haha I loved it!

Heather said...

This is fantastic!

Bev Hankins said...

I was just reading along in the letter when the name William Parker Riley jumped out at me. Professor Riley was a faculty member and then Chair of the English Department here at Indiana University (where I work). Our departmental library is named for him and is known as the "The Parker." I don't usually think about his full name, so I had to get up and go check the plaque to make sure that this was our William Riley Parker. It was. Wow.

E.St.Clair said...

Wow. Just wow. I hope she wrote a novel at some point in her life, and I hope I somehow find it and read it! Loved this one - what a voice; what a find!

Laurie said...

Ah, poor Alice!

Danzel @Silver Shoes and Rabbit Holes said...

Fantastic. I want to have a drink with Alice.

Lisa Shafer said...

I have now decided that every time in the future I donate a book to a charity shop or library sales, I will first write a cryptic and bizarre letter to slip into it and make the purchasers wonder......

Beachreader said...

Amazing. Alice is now my new best friend.

Jamie Rosen said...

That is marvelous. I wonder what Alice would make of her minor fame?

Tami said...

Oh my. I think if I was Alice I would get drunk too.

Amanda said...

That is absolutely fantastic! It gave me quite a laugh. I wonder how Alice's life turned out?

Stacie said...

Hahaha, this was an amazing letter. It makes me hope she wrote an autobiography.

Contrariwise said...

HAHA I love this so much!

neer said...

This is fun.

Diane J. said...

Oh my gosh, that is good. Although, the other post was pretty good, too. I think I it's a tie. What a great laugh, I can't tell you how much your posts brighten my days!

jaklumen said...

Well, she's certainly quite a character, isn't she?

Leslie Ann said...

I must say, that letter made me chuckle. It's a keeper.

imagespast said...

Fantastic letter :-) I wrote my fair share of them when I was young so Alice and I need to go out and get drunk for old time's sake :-) Jo

ewoates said...

the date, subject and especially the tone/style suggest that 'alice' just might be Alice Sheldon, AKA the well known SF writer James Tiptree. That would be something of a literary find.

Devilgirl said...

I shall now endeavor, every day, to observe, religiously, fifteen minutes of adore Alice.

elly higginbottom said...

This has to be one of the writers who were "bohemians" in the late 40's at NYU. Poet, Edward Field, in his memoir "The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag: and Other Literary Intimate Portraits" (which seems to be a great read, from the 40 or so free preview pages I read) talks about George Broadfield, a "Negro" who told tall tales and who went abroad for decades and worked for governments in Africa.
From the writing style, this letter could almost be written by Edward Field. And in 1952, he had just returned from living in Paris for a few years and was in group therapy - and in a very dark phase it seems. Not sure if it is him, or if there was a woman named Alice. I didn't see the name Alice mentioned. But, I'm fairly certain this was written by one of the writers in that group of bohemians.
George Broadfield was murdered by a "Haitian Hustler" in New York in the 1970's.

Hilaria said...

Absolutely funny letter. Kind of reminds me, in a nutshell, of a book I have called "The Heart Has Seventeen Rooms," by Carol Bartholomew, written in 1959, about a lady whose husband helped to build a dam in Punjab in India and how she was involved in nursing at an Indian hospital. But unlike Alice, Carol had a wonderful time in India!

That George Broadfield fellow sounds like a complete trip...that part in which Alice says "He thinks he is a Negro" made me burst into laughter.

Matter of fact, the whole letter made me burst into laughter. Probably sounds like something I'd write.

Hilaria said...

Absolutely funny letter. Kind of reminds me, in a nutshell, of a book I have called "The Heart Has Seventeen Rooms," by Carol Bartholomew, written in 1959, about a lady whose husband helped to build a dam in Punjab in India and how she was involved in nursing at an Indian hospital. But unlike Alice, Carol had a wonderful time in India!

That George Broadfield fellow sounds like a complete trip...that part in which Alice says "He thinks he is a Negro" made me burst into laughter.

Matter of fact, the whole letter made me burst into laughter. Probably sounds like something I'd write.

Pamela Bates said...

I found this post by chance, searching for something on Pinterest. I'm so glad I did. That letter is something else and so is Alice!

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