Caracas, 26 de marzo de 1924 / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Caracas, 26 March 1924

Mr. Lorenzo Ramos
Maracaibo, Agencia Banco Venezuela

Dear Lorenzo,

     I received your letter. I read it with the utmost attention and visited Lecuna, who is willing to leave you there and contribute to your prosperity. It is to your benefit if you live within the four walls of your house. I’m taking into consideration what you say in your last letter. I had already written to you saying that you should write with the single adornment of the exact expression and cruelly suppressing whatever might sound like a discourse. The word should always be humble and plain. One should never call attention to oneself. Avoid bad company. There are many alcoholics among them. Live alone, but be polite.
     You should have in your property the following books in French versions and in prose, except for the Bible, which should be the Protestant version by Cipriano de Valera:
     The Iliad and Odyssey, Plutarch, Virgil, The Edda which is to say Scandinavian Mythology (this last book can be found for you by François Jarrin, Rue des Écoles 48 or J. Gamber, Rue Danton 7), the Divine Comedy, Orlando Furioso by Ariosto, Don Quijote in Spanish, Goethe’s Faust, Telemachus, the Thousand and One Nights.
     Read, even if you don’t have them:
     English theater (Shakespeare), Spanish theater (Lope de Vega, Calderón, Tirso de Molina, Alarcón), Greek theater (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides), French theater (Molière, Racine and Corneille). With reading one drama by each author you have enough.
     You have enough with one copy of each type of novel: Picaresque novel(Gil Blas). Novel of improbable qualities (Three Musketeers). Historical novel (Walter Scott). Typical English novel (Dickens, George Eliot who is a woman). Typical French novel (Balzac). Typical Russian novel (Dostoyevsky). Typical modern Spanish novel (Galdós, Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, the dramatist is Ruiz de Alarcón).
     The best manuals of universal history are the ones by Duruy, and the best history of Venezuela is the one by Baralt which you should own.
     The day you’ve read all this you will possess an enormous literary culture. As you see, it’s not necessary to read many books, but rather books that are characteristic of each age.
     J. Gamber, Rue Danton 7, is more obliging and active than Jarrin; when you write to him sign your name as Lorenzo Ramos, so he doesn’t confuse you with me. Tell him you don’t want deluxe editions, just decent ones.
     You should own: F. Loliée, Histoire Des Littératures comparées.
     Edmond Desmolins, À quoi tient la supériorité des Anglosaxons?
     Get in touch with J. Gamber, the best agent. He lives in Paris, Rue Danton, 7.
     Make sure to read the books I recommend first, and don’t let yourself be guided in that point by anyone else.
     I’m willing to serve you with all my powers. Write to me whenever you’d like. Be polite and live alone. Please your fellow human beings and evade them. Make each person you deal with a friend, though not an importune friend but rather a useful friend.


{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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