Frustratingly, I seem to have left the actual card at my office, so you'll have to wait for a photo, but here's the gist: my correspondent suggests I check out Jocelyn Brooke's Orchid Trilogy, noting that the 1981 edition has an introduction by Anthony Powell. And, to my great entertainment, the date is marked "N. S.," so we know that he's dating the year from January 1, the Gregorian approach.
The tip on Brooke, whose book I immediately grabbed from the library, is greatly appreciated. I'll be reading it in the coming weeks, but I have already enjoyed Anthony Powell's introduction, which, like nearly all of his writing about other writers, is perceptive and personal, showing us their work through Powell's own interests and concerns.
One passage in particular struck me as appropriate in the context of my correspondent:
I was never a close friend of Jocelyn Brooke's, but we corresponded quite often, and he was one of those people to whom one wrote letters with great ease. He speaks more than once of his own liking for that sort of relationship, a kind that did not make him feel hemmed in. There are several incidents in his books when the narrator refuses an invitation from someone with whom he is getting on pretty well so that it was no great surprise when, a few months after Brooke had stayed with us for a weekend, he politely excused himself from another visit on grounds of work. The reason may have been valid enough, writing time always hard to conserve, but one suspected his sense of feeling "different," unwillingness to cope with face-to-face cordialities of a kind that might at the same time be agreeable in letters.As someone who constantly has to fight the pull of home and quiet semi-solitude, I understand completely, and value the sort of friendship Powell describes.
Thanks, ! I'll report back on Brooke down the line . . .