The Best American Essay 2001: Mail by Anne Fadiman
In the essay”Mail” which was originally appeared in the American Scholar, written by Anne Fadiman, Fadiman reflects on the history of communication, from the Victorian mail system to modern electronic mail. She opened her essay with a portrait of her father, writer Clifton Fadiman, waiting for his day to really start with the arrival of the daily post. From there, she examines British postal history in nineteenth century. At her father times, mail was delivered from 10 to 12 times a day and everybody has not any others communication tools, except mail. Sending mail was a very expensive business and only made worse by the fact that the recipient and not the sender was forced to pay for it, thus putting the expense out of one's hand. Eventually, the system was completely overhauled and the so-called "penny post" was introduced in the essay. Moreover, when the recipient was forced to pay for the letter and often pay dearly, there was added pressure by an additional charge for long distance between the sender and the addressee. The hope was that revenue would increase by reducing the price and thereby increasing the volume handled. In fact, it succeeded and shifted the burden of payment from the addressee to the sender. Linking the continuous history of the postal service, Anne Fadiman looks at a new phenomenon that has become familiar to millions: Electronic mail. She recounts her own struggles with e-mail and concludes that this tool can provide human beings the level of service they need. In this essay, I find that the author has approached the subject from a personal perspective and makes the essay rich in familiar nature. She used an agreeable style and tone that was neither too formal nor too informal. Her essay are written over a long period and took longer in the gestation, giving it a depth and consistency across the topic she want to mainly talk about.
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