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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Legends in Letters

Love Letters
BBC Magazine

The love letter is endangeredOne in five women have never received a love letter, and half haven't had one for a decade, a UK government survey of 2,000 women suggests.

The survey from the Department for Education and Skills said 77% of women would prefer to receive a love letter to an e-mail or text. And yet just as the e-mail is inexorably killing the ordinary letter, so it seems its predations are dooming the love letter.

History is littered with famous writers of love letters.

Despite being primarily a fan of invading Russia and general world domination, Napoleon was a dab hand at the romantic missive.

One example, however, provides a perfect example of how not to go about things.

NapoleonHe writes to Josephine: "I don't love you. On the contrary, I detest you. You're nothing; a gawky, foolish Cinderella. You never write to me. You don't love your own husband - you know what pleasures your letters give him."

But the true doyennes of romantic penmanship were Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In one famous letter, Barrett Browning wrote: "And now listen to me in turn. You have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me - my heart was full when you came here today. Henceforward I am yours for everything."

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What's the myth of the hanging Munchkin?
BBC Magazine

Have they spotted the Munchkin?Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh's new play, which opens in Dublin this week, seizes on the legend of a small shadowy figure hanging from a tree in the Wizard of Oz - said to be a hanging Munchkin. What's that all about?

Irvine Welsh's new play Babylon Heights, which has its European premiere in Dublin this week, portrays the backstage lives of the dwarves who played the Munchkins in the legendary Judy Garland film.

The actors, recruited from all over the world and billeted away from the rest of the cast, were reputed to have indulged in "sex orgies, drunken behaviour and general dwarf debauchery" - rumours that Garland herself later propagated.

But the play focuses on how, in the film's original print, you can see a small shadowed figure hanging from a tree. Myth has it that one of the dwarf actors was driven to despair over his unrequited love for a female Munchkin and decided to end it all right there on the set.

"You can see this in the final print of the film. It does very much look like a Munchkin that has hung himself," says Welsh.

"It's a persistent myth - the point about myths is they don't have to be true, they don't have to be facts, but people need to believe in them. We've taken that as a starting point, that that myth is actually true and the Munchkin has actually hung himself."

The so-called "Munchkin suicide" scene is at the very end of the Tin Woodsman sequence, as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodsman go down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City.

Pictures courtesy of BBC News online.

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