CITYLIFE / shanghai

A love-letter competition is on
By Lu Feiran (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-13 14:57

With the deadline for a love-letter competition approaching, organizers said not enough people were penning romantic missives anymore.

Shanghai Popular Book Mall launched an event to select the "most beautiful love letter" on June 20. The deadline is tomorrow (July 14) and organizers said they had only collected about 30 letters so far, of which 90 percent were from women.

Some girls were brave enough to contribute letters about the objects of the secret admiration, said the organizer. Some middle-aged men had contributed love letters they had written in their younger years.

"Most people of our generation were very shy," said a 50-year-old contributor who only identified himself as Lu. "When I was not brave enough to express my feelings to my girlfriend face to face, I just wrote the words down."

Today's young men, however, said they preferred to express their love more directly. "It is not easy for me to write down my feelings; maybe sending a short message or an e-mail is more efficient," said Feng Xiaofei, a 23- year-old real-estate employee. "And I always believe that actions are more important than passionate words."

Modern technology is another reason why hand-written love letters are disappearing, said the organizer. "Love letter models" are available everywhere on the Internet. One just inputs personal data, such as name, the lover's name, gender and age, and clicks the mouse, then a romantic love letter can be formed easily within one minute.

Professor Chen Lifei from Shanghai Normal University believed that love letters had been abandoned in the changing times.

"Several decades ago, Chinese people seldom spoke out loud about their love due to the society's atmosphere. Their oppressed feelings could only be relieved by means of passionate love letters," said Chen.

"Now society is more tolerant than before, and the communication technologies more advanced, giving people more choices to express their love.

"In addition, girls' minds are more exquisite than those of boys, so they are more interested in literature and arts," she added. "That's why girls prefer writing or receiving love letters."

The event aims to bring back the lost passion for love letters. "That is why we only accept handwritten original letters," said He Qunxing of the bookmall. "Writing love letters can be a sort of culture. The classic love letters from some great historical figures, such as Karl Marx, Aleksandr Pushkin and Xu Zhimo (a famous Chinese poet in the 1930s), have spread down from generation to generation."