Author Topic: The language of Victorian letters  (Read 21039 times)

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Alixz

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The language of Victorian letters
« on: October 05, 2005, 07:12:47 PM »
I have always read a lot of biographies.  In them there are always excepts from the letters sent in the thousands between Victorians and their familes and lovers and friends.

We often chastise Alix for the words she used in her letters to Nicholas, but to begin this thread, I copy this letter.

Oh! darling I miss you so and I long for the happy hours which we have together and I think of the many which we have had these last two weeks constantly - I am so happy.  So very happy in your love dearest, that all the world has changed for me.  If only I can bring to you all that you have brought to me all my dearest wishes will be fulfilled and I shall know that you too will always be happy-----
Goodbye dearest Boy, take care of yourself in the cold weather and think always of

                                         Your devoted

Sunny?

No!  This is a copy of a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to FDR when they were engaged.
She signs herself "Little Nell"

Flowery and ebulient writing was very much a part of Victorian correspondence.

I hope more posters will post more excerpts here and we can compare and contrast and enjoy.


« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Alixz »

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2005, 03:53:16 PM »
Point well-taken!

What year was that letter written?
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Alixz

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2005, 06:12:34 PM »
It was written on 6 January 1904.

From Eleanor Roosevelt volume one 1884-1933 by Blanch Wiesen Cook

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2005, 10:54:18 PM »
Technically the Edwardian age, then, but certainly a contemporary of Nicky & Alix!  ;)
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Offline hikaru

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2005, 11:43:15 AM »
I think that it is intresting point of discussion.
I found out that the Russian language of Nicholas 's diary and private letters  sounds very modern even now.
I do not understand English very good,
so I would like to clarify: If the Alix's letters sound like old fashion one?

Alixz

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2005, 08:21:20 PM »
Alix's letters were full of romantic and flowery words.  She called Nicholas "boysie" and she called herself "wifey"
One example always used to her detriment is the one to Rasputin "to lie forever in your arms".
But after reading the letters of so many other Victorians and Edwardians the pattern shows that most everyone used that kind of intimate language to each other.
It didn't seem to matter if they were close relatives or just good friends.
Without quoting directly, many other phrases were used such as "I miss you dreadfully in the hours we have been apart" and that could have been written to a female friend as well as a husband or wife.
Somehow I couldn't see me writing that to my sister, but in Victorian times, it could have been written to a school chum.

Offline hikaru

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2005, 11:22:38 PM »
It is very intresting, because Nicholas's russian language is not flowery at all.
It is very modern.
A lot of magazine's articles ot those times sound more flowery and old fashioned than his diaries and letters.

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2005, 09:58:49 AM »
Ather interesting thing about Alix's letters -- they were very conversational. The tsar wrote in a careful, composed way, while the empress's letters are full of half-sentences, thoughts separated by dashes, exclamations, and other features of spoken language. Her thoughts seem to go directly from her mind to the paper. This isn't to say she was incorrect or sloppy (though her spelling was sometimes, shall we say, unconventional). The tsar, on the other hand, could take hours to phrase a letter precisely the way he wanted to.
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Offline etonexile

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2005, 10:09:21 AM »
I've been reading some letters of my Great-Grandmother and her sisters...1900's....very flowery and chatty...and vey naughty at times.... ;D

Offline Marialana

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2005, 10:48:55 AM »
Quote
Ather interesting thing about Alix's letters -- they were very conversational. The tsar wrote in a careful, composed way, while the empress's letters are full of half-sentences, thoughts separated by dashes, exclamations, and other features of spoken language. Her thoughts seem to go directly from her mind to the paper. This isn't to say she was incorrect or sloppy (though her spelling was sometimes, shall we say, unconventional). The tsar, on the other hand, could take hours to phrase a letter precisely the way he wanted to.



You make an interesting point. I think this speaks alot to their different personalities. Despite her restrained surface she was far more impulsive and emotional than her husband, and probably had words tumbling all over themselves in their rush to be written. Sometimes her letters read as a stream of consciousness. Unfortunately, I think her writing style contributes greatly to her being misunderstood as a scattered and overemotional woman. Many times it's not what you say, it's how you say it. I think how she "said it" - to modern eyes, anyways - makes her appear much more frenetic than she actually was.

Alixz

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2005, 06:01:45 PM »
I agree about her style.  It was conversational and full of intimate thoughts.

And I agree about some of the things that seem "very naughty" to us now were well accepted.

Women would talk of kissing and holding each other in emotional distress just because they were parting for a few days.

Nicholas did write to Alix about rubbing her leggies because they were very naughty to be hurting her.  I can't see my husband saying anything like that to me even if I were on crutches!

As to ER and the letter I started this thread with, she would write at least 10 to 15 pages a day to her closest friends and the content was very much like Alix's.

How did these women have the time to sit and write so much.  I can barely get an hour in at this forum!

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Alixz »

Offline Sarushka

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2005, 11:15:42 AM »
Quote
How did these women have the time to sit and write so much.  I can barely get an hour in at this forum!


Well, Mrs Roosevelt & Alix didn't have to bother with putting supper on the table, dusting the brickabrack, or getting an oil change!
Ok, ok, one was devoted to hospital work and the other busy changing the world, but you know what I mean...
;)
THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
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Alixz

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2005, 06:43:04 PM »
SarahElizabethII

You have me spitting my tea at the computer screen in side splitting laughter!!! ;D ;D ;D ;D

I can just see Alix getting an "oil change".

Offline hikaru

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2005, 02:06:22 AM »
I read the letters of Maria Feodorovna to Alexandr III ( we have the book of those letters).
Even in 1880-90 , her letters were not flowery or naughty and look very modern.
I think that Nicholas learned the way of hanwriting from his parents, which is naturally).
we could say , that the language of  letters was selected in accordance with fashion of those times. But I think that  the  nature of the person, who wrote the letters, also played a role.
( But I do not know about the language of Minni's letters to her syster in England. Are they  typical Vyctorian ones  ( i.e. flowery or naughty , or not?))

Offline imperial angel

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Re: The language of Victorian letters
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2006, 11:09:33 AM »
The language of Victorian letters was very flowery, and very different than today in some ways. In general, people may not have thought of what was appropriate language back then as much as now. And it depended on the person writing it, as well. Personality played a factor, as it always does. Different letters back then were written in different styles, depending on the person. But it is true that in general the style of letters was flowery, compared with what would be considered normal today.

Alexandra certainly wrote in a emotional  and rather scatterbrained and conversational style, that was rather breathless. Perhaps this contributes to inaccurate perceptions of her today, or perhaps not. I think people back then gave letter writing more importance then than today, so perhaps they made time.