oscar wilde

If you need to write a break-up letter (either because you have been broken up with, or because you are a heartbreaker yourself) you’re surely going to want to take advice from some famous authors who do it really, really well. Or badly. Actually, sometimes they are bad at break-up letters, too. And sort of petty! Let’s see what we can draw from this selection of famous author’s break-up letters on Flavorpill:

Know how to guilt trip:

Simone de Beauvoir figures out how to make Nelson Algren feel guilty for not writing forever when she says:

I hope so much, I want and need so much to see you again, some day. But, remember, please, I shall never more ask to see you — not from any pride since I have none with you, as you know, but our meeting will mean something only when you wish it.


So, I’ll wait. When you’ll wish it, just tell. I shall not assume that you love me anew, not even that you have to sleep with me, and we have not to stay together such a long time — just as you feel, and when you feel. But know that i’ll always long for your asking me…But that will not bother you, honey, and don’t make writing letters of any kind a duty, just write when you feel like it, knowing every time it will make me very happy.

Just be wounded. Just be endlessly wounded and still loving them with the fragile pieces of your torn apart heart (seriously, don’t you feel awful for her here? Even if she’s laying the guilt on a tiny bit thick?)

Find a way to tell them that you never really liked their poetry:

Oscar Wilde explains to his lover that he only told him he was a good poet because he was hot. He was really just a poem “of the undergraduate school.” But subtly.

You send me a very nice poem, of the undergraduate school of verse, for my approval: I reply by a letter of fantastic literary conceits [reproduced above]: I compare you to Hylas, or Hyacinth, Jonquil or Narcisse, or someone whom the great god of Poetry favoured, and honoured with his love. The letter is like a passage from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, transposed to a minor key. It can only be understood by those who have read the Symposium of Plato, or caught the spirit of a certain grave mood made beautiful for us in Greek marbles. It was, let me say frankly, the sort of letter I would, in a happy if wilful moment, have written to any graceful young man of either University who had sent me a poem of his own making, certain that he would have sufficient wit or culture to interpret rightly its fantastic phrases.

I like the way Wilde also seems to imply that he would just be sending out love letters with allusions to Plato willy-nilly, and that was just how he would respond to anyone who sent him a poem.

I guess just be awful?

Agnes von Kurowsky wrote to Ernest Hemingway

I somehow feel that some day I’ll have reason to be proud of you, but, dear boy, I can’t wait for that day, & it was wrong to hurry a career.


I tried hard to make you understand a bit of what I was thinking on that trip from Padua to Milan, but, you acted like a spoiled child, & I couldn’t keep on hurting you. Now, I only have the courage because I’m far away.

Apparently it was all Hemingway’s fault, but, you know, maybe someday this Hemingway kid will have an okay career. Maybe.

Well, look, whatever you write, you’re probably not going to accuse your ex of acting like a spoiled child (or, if you are, try to avoid that) so in a way, you might be more pulled together than some authors.

Picture via Wikipedia