It struck me today that many of what I consider to be the most beautiful and tragic love stories have unfolded around (or with the aid of) a typewriter. I like the way the stubborn little ink ribbons bravely professes their fragility in a smudge-proof world. Much like love itself.
Feel free to add to this list and apologies for digressing from the glitz and glam but without the bitter, the sweet ain’t as sweet!
The first time I came across this phenomenon was in (what turned out to be) my favorite book of all time. Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. Briefly a sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes. My favorite part of the story is this: Chapter 2 of Phase I.
Consider a certain night in August. Princess Leigh-Cheri was gazing out of her attic window. . . “Does the moon have a purpose?” she inquired of prince Charming [her pet frog].
Prince Charming pretended that she had asked a silly question. Perhaps she had. The same query put to the Remington SL3 [the typewriter] elicited this response:
Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not.
Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning and an end.
Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm.
There is only one serious question. And that is:
Who knows how to make love stay?
Answer me that and I will tell you whether or not to kill yourself.
Answer me that and I will ease your mind about the beginning and the end of time.
Answer me that and I will reveal to you the purpose of the moon.
In Moulin Rouge, Ewan McGregor types his love story about truth, freedom and above all – love in frantic flashback with the aid of his rustic typewriter.
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is how to love and be loved in return.”
The OST for the movie Atonement relies heavily on the haunting sound of solitary typewriter keys. In fact the effect was so powerful it helped the movie win an Academy Award when the typewriter was given musical instrument status.