Letter to the Reader

The only mandatory class for all Penn graduates is the infamous Writing Seminar.  Most hate it.  But in the Spring of my freshman year, I registered for Paul Deveney’s course on Winston Churchill.  And I absolutely loved it.  With this and the next several blog posts, I’ll share some of my pieces from that class.

This first one is an introductory Letter to the Reader.  Even though this was written nearly four years ago, I still love the loud, assertive, and even braggish tone.  After all, those adjectives could easily describe Churchill himself; and if what they say about the company you keep is true, well…

Dear Reader,

Finally, we get to speak, you and I.  Oh, if only I could count the nights I lay restless, wondering if I would please you!  You with your endless desires, your high standards, and your red grammar pen!  But now the waiting is over for both of us.  Go ahead, relax!  My priority throughout this process has been to write fluidly: turn those pages with ease.

The first bulk of work you’ll read revolves around my research topic.  I chose to examine the so-called “special” relationship between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.  It was and is my hope that you will have a certain degree of background knowledge with this topic and therefore be comfortable while I delve into some more specific caveats.

The next major portion is a piece on the relationship between Churchill and George Bernard Shaw.  Shaw was an English playwright who earned much critical acclaim.  He is still worshiped in some circles today, and you in fact probably know more about him than I do (or at least more than I did before writing the essay).  In any case, my views towards their relationship are rather contrarian, a style you should expect before reading any of my works.

I’m argumentative when I write.  Prepare yourself for extended metaphors, rhetorical questions, and alliteration after alliteration.  At times, feel free to envision my writing being preached from a soap box in 1776 Colonial America (cape and wig included of course).

It is this ancestral reverence for the art of rhetoric that inspires me.  Consider that I hold writing itself in a much higher regard than the subject; I value the means more than the end.  I love public speaking, and behind every great speech is a great piece of writing.  If nothing else, I hope that by the end of this portfolio you are at least convinced of that love.  And no matter what grade you feel I deserve…I have not yet begun to write!


Jay Friedel