Love shapes the world
Ludwig van Beethoven to an unknown woman
Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich, 13 July 1950
From Virginia Woolf to her husband Leonard
From Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf
From Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir
From John Keats to Fanny Browne
Jack London to Anna Strunsky, 3 April 1901
Vladimir Nabokov to Vera Slonim
Leonard Cohen to Marianne Ihlen, shortly before his death
James Joyce to Nora Barnacle, 22 August 1909
Franz Kafka to Milena Jesenska, April 1920
Franz Kafka to his beloved Milena
From Frida Khalo to José Bartoli
From Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera
From Martin Heidegger to Hannah Arendt
From Victor Hugo to Juliette Drouet
From Marcel Proust to Reynaldo Hahn
From Jean Cocteau to Jean Marais
From Friedrich Nietzsche to Cosima Wagner
From Albert Camus to Maria Casares
From Paul Éluard to Gala
Adele Sandrock to Arthur Schnitzler, 12 April 1893
Sibilla Aleramo to Dino Campana
From Dino Campana to Sibilla Aleramo
From Italo Calvino to Elsa De Giorgi
From George Sand to Alfred de Musset
From Gino Strada to his wife Teresa
From Boris Pasternak to Olga Ivinskaja
From Amalia Guglielminetti to Guido Gozzano
De Giovanni Verga to Dina
From Amadeo Modigliani to Anna Achmatova
The most beautiful and tear-jerking love letters in history
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Love shapes the world

Writing down our emotions, giving precise meaning to the sensations we feel, expressing the depth of our thoughts... How many times have we faced these challenges? We know that words are important because they have the potential to change our relationships with others and project how we feel. The old literary art of the love letter lives on. We take a look at the most beautiful love letters ever written.

The most beautiful and tear-jerking love letters in history
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Ludwig van Beethoven to an unknown woman

"Calm, love me today and yesterday. How much nostalgia, how much regret for you, for you, for you, for you my life, my everything. Goodbye. Please continue to love me, never misjudge the more than faithful heart of your beloved. Eternally yours. Eternally mine. Eternally ours."

The most beautiful and tear-jerking love letters in history
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Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich, 13 July 1950

"I always think I know you, but I've never asked you a question in my life other than where you live or what your phone number is. But I've missed you harder and longer than anyone I've ever known".
"I can't say how every time I ever put my arms around you I felt that I was home," he wrote.

The most beautiful and tear-jerking love letters in history
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From Virginia Woolf to her husband Leonard

"... to look life in the face, to look at it closely and to understand it for the sole purpose of understanding it, to love it and to choose to leave it aside, to choose to leave it with its universal beauty and to go away together with the years lived and spent together. To the days. To love. And then moments. Eternal moments... Let yourself be guided in a world that I wanted but that you didn't want. May your smile never disappear from my face. Make love to me, perhaps. I'll probably make you suffer."

The most beautiful and tear-jerking love letters in history
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From Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf

"I have been reduced to something that desires Virginia. I wrote you a beautiful letter in the sleepless, nightmarish hours of tonight, and it is gone. I simply miss you, in a very simple, human, desperate way. You, with all your letters, would never write a sentence as elementary as this; maybe you wouldn't even feel it. I don't think you would miss the small emptiness. But you would dress it up in such an exquisite phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. With me, however, it is very potent: your absence hurts even more than I could have imagined - and I was prepared to feel it not a little. So this letter is no more than a cry of pain. [...]".

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From Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir

"Today I love you in a way you have never known in me: I am neither weary of travel nor am I wrapped in desire for your presence. I am mastering my love for you and turning it inward into a constituent element of my being. This happens much more often than I admit to you, but rarely when I write to you. Try to understand me: I love you while paying attention to external things. In Toulouse I loved you deliberately. Today I love you on a summer afternoon. I love you with the window open. You are mine, and things are mine, and my love changes things around me and things change my love".

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From John Keats to Fanny Browne

"My love has made me selfish. I cannot breath without you. I see no further. You have absorb’d me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving – I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love."

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Jack London to Anna Strunsky, 3 April 1901

"Did I say that humans can be categorised? Then, if I did, let me make a clarification: not all humans. You escape me. I cannot categorise you, I cannot understand you. I can guess, nine times out of ten, depending on the circumstances, I can predict reactions, those nine times out of ten, But of the tenth I despair. It is beyond me. You are that tenth."

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Vladimir Nabokov to Vera Slonim

"How can I explain to you, my joy, my admirable golden happiness, to what extent I am yours, with all my memories, my poems, my raptures, my inner whirlwinds? Explain to you that I cannot write a single word without hearing how you would pronounce it, nor remember any trifle I have lived without regretting - so deeply! - not having shared it with you, whether it be the most personal and unspeakable, or a simple sunset on the bend of a road... Do you understand what I mean, my happiness?"

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Leonard Cohen to Marianne Ihlen, shortly before his death

"Well, Marianne, we have come to this point where we are so old that our bodies are falling to pieces; I think I shall follow you very soon. Know that I am so near you that, if you put out your hand, I think you will be able to reach mine. You know that I have always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom but I don't need to expand on that since you know all about that. I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye, old friend. Endless love, I'll see you down the road."

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James Joyce to Nora Barnacle, 22 August 1909

"There is a letter which I dare not be the first to write, but which I also wait every day for you to write to me. A letter for my eyes only. Perhaps you will write it to me and quench my desire. What? Can they separate us now? We have suffered and we have been tested. All veils of shame and mistrust seem to have dissolved between us. Shall we not see in each other's eyes the hours and hours of happiness that await us? Adorn your body for me, my darling, be beautiful and happy and loving and provocative, full of memories, full of desires."

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Franz Kafka to Milena Jesenska, April 1920

"To try to catch in one night, by magic, in a hurry, panting, helpless, possessed, to try to catch by magic what every day offers to open eyes! [...] That is why I am so grateful (to you and to everything) and that is why, then, that together with you I feel absolutely serene and absolutely restless, absolutely coerced and absolutely free, which is why, after having understood it, I have renounced all the rest of life. Look into my eyes!"

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Franz Kafka to his beloved Milena

"For some reason I don't know I like you very much. [...] I'd say enough to make me wake up at night, alone, and unable to go back to sleep, to start dreaming [... ]"

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From Frida Khalo to José Bartoli

"I want to give you the most beautiful colours, I want to kiss you... [...] I want to be the water that washes you, the light that gives you shape, I want my substance to be your substance, I want your voice to come out of my throat so that you can caress me from the inside... [...] If sometimes you suffer, I want to fill you with tenderness so that you feel better. Find me always near you. Always waiting for you. And I would like to be light and bathed when you want to be alone."

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From Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera

"Where are you? Where are you? My night drowns me for lack of you. My night would like to call you, but it has no voice. Yet I would like to call you and find you; and embrace you for a moment and forget this time that massacres. My body can't understand it. It needs you as much as I do, maybe deep down, my body and I are one. My body needs you . My night digs until it no longer feels the flesh and the feeling becomes stronger, sharper, devoid of material substance. My night burns me with love."

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From Martin Heidegger to Hannah Arendt

"And what can I do at this moment? Take care that nothing is broken in you, that the difficult and painful aspects of your past are purified, that the foreign things and all that you have endured are smoothed out."

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From Victor Hugo to Juliette Drouet

"I love you, my poor little angel, you know it, and yet you want me to write it to you. You are right. You have to love each other, and then you have to say it, and then you have to write it, and then you have to kiss each other on the lips, in the eyes, everywhere. You are my beloved Juliette. When I am sad I think of you, as in winter one thinks of the sun, and when I am happy I think of you, as in full sun one thinks of the shade. You can well see, Juliette, that I love you with all my soul. You have the youthful air of a child, and the wise air of a mother, and so I envelop you with all these loves at once".

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From Marcel Proust to Reynaldo Hahn

"If only you were always here in the guise of a God invisible to other mortals."

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From Jean Cocteau to Jean Marais

"Worship me as I worship you, my beloved Jeannot, and hold me tight to your heart. Help me to be a saint, to be worthy of you. I live only because of you and for you."

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From Friedrich Nietzsche to Cosima Wagner

"To my princess Ariadne, my beloved. That I am a man is a prejudice. But I have already lived many times among men and I know everything that men can feel, from the lowest to the highest. I was Buddha among the Indians and Dionysus in Greece [...] Finally, again, I was Voltaire and Napoleon, perhaps even Richard Wagner... But this time I come as the victorious Dionysus. Arianna I love you, your Dionysus."

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From Albert Camus to Maria Casares

"I love you. I live again. I will live with you here, in pain but in love. Above all, I will wait for your letters . Write. Soon. Tell me all about you and your days. I'll tell you the details. And, above all, the intoxicating love that fills me now, my trust and my tenderness. Mary, Mary dear, all this is a bad dream from which we will wake up together. And forever. "

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From Paul Éluard to Gala

"My beautiful, my beloved, your absence kills me. Everything is empty, I only have your clothes to kiss. I miss your body, your eyes, your mouth, your whole presence. You are the only one, I will love you for all eternity. All the misfortunes I've suffered are nothing. My love, our love embraces them. I want you to have as much as it is possible to have, the most beautiful thing. Prolong your absence as little as possible. Come back soon. Without you I am nothing. My other desires I make them come true by dreaming. My desire for you I realise in reality. Absolve reality."

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Adele Sandrock to Arthur Schnitzler, 12 April 1893

"When I woke up I had the sensation of still being inside the magic circle of your love, as if I was still in your arms... I felt your mouth sucking my breath... I did not feel love, happiness and all these words, words hunted to death, uttered ad nauseam until they became caricatures, it was much more likely that it was something different, a rebirth, an unknown world revealing its splendours to me, the marriage of a body and a soul imbued with infinite desire."

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Sibilla Aleramo to Dino Campana

"May you rest, while I am so ardent in your thought I can no longer sleep, and I am happy. You promised to make you look even more beautiful, my beautiful blonde beast, how will you spend these days and nights in my blue scarf? [...] Rest, rest, we deserved the miracle, we'll live it all [...]."

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From Dino Campana to Sibilla Aleramo

"Give to whoever needs it that little bit of poetry that in you may have sprung from our love. I can tell you nothing more after this. [Forgive me if I don't want to be a poet, not even for you]. Silence can no longer say anything to me. You feel my infinite desolation and I carry you as my memory of glory and joy. Remember when you suffer of the one who loves you infinitely."

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From Italo Calvino to Elsa De Giorgi

"I want to love you by writing, to take you by writing, nothing else. Is it the fear of suffering that takes hold of you? I need to be admired by you as I continually admire you. I need to be in your arms. More than ever and happier."

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From George Sand to Alfred de Musset

"May my memory not poison any of the joys of your life, but do not let these joys destroy and spoil my memory. Be happy, be loved, how could you not be? But look at me from a secret little corner of my heart and come down there in your days of sorrow to find there a comfort or a breath. Love then, my Alfred, love as much as you can.
Love a young and beautiful woman who has not yet loved, treat her well and don't make her suffer."

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From Gino Strada to his wife Teresa

"Dear Teresa, I am angry with you. Very much, too much. You told me you were leaving, but I always hoped you would change your mind, that you would cancel this trip. Instead you left, smiling. I am angry with you because you have deprived me of the possibility of giving you back at least some fragments of that silent and great love you have given me for forty years. I never thought I could settle the score, but I'd like to give you some love today, and tomorrow too, and after. "Hey, my dear, [...] you should have thought of that before...": I feel you tell me again. You're right, as usual."

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From Boris Pasternak to Olga Ivinskaja

"I am bound to you by life, by the sun shining in the window, by a feeling of sorrow and sadness, by the consciousness of my guilt (oh, not in front of you, of course), but in front of everyone, by the consciousness of my weakness and the inadequacy of what I have done so far, by the conviction that one has to make an enormous effort and move mountains in order not to deceive one's friends and not to be an impostor. Better than us are all the others around me and the more I treat them and the dearer they are to me, the more and more and more deeply I love you. [...] I hold you tight, and almost fall in love with tenderness and almost cry."

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From Amalia Guglielminetti to Guido Gozzano

"I don't want you to escape me, Guido, I don't want you to follow me from afar like a stranger, to see me again one day in the distance when perhaps my hair will no longer be so brown, my mouth fresh and my eyes clear. Let me say "you" to you as a companion, that I don't feel the coldness of that hard word between us. I am your companion now without trembling and without shuddering, sister of your soul. I am for you as on the first day I saw you, neither satisfied, nor weary, nor oppressed by the least part of you."

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De Giovanni Verga to Dina

"Many things I would like to tell you that crowd in my mind and swell in my heart and become cold and silly on paper. I only tell you this, that I still have you always in front of my eyes, and they accompany you every hour of the day, and I feel that I miss the dearest and the best of myself. Do you manage to carry me thus? The road I walked alone, after having walked it with you, was a great sadness, every place, every stone we saw together comes back to me and binds me. The words, the actions, the tones of voice. The words you didn't say and the words I didn't dare to say to you."

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From Amadeo Modigliani to Anna Achmatova

"You are the passion of a sketch in a notebook, the exaltation of colours, the predilection of a kiss with which to betray for love. So here I write to you and I write to you again. Because nostalgia reminds me of your face. Poetess, you have sought my search. I eat little and, like the rain-filled morning sky, my gaze darkens. But my heart remembers you. How bright we were? Do you remember? My dear Anna."

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