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From Man to Man, 26pp - HRC

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas

HRC Schreiner, Olive – Works: MS-3734

From Man to Man, 26pp manuscript



The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin is one of the world’s leading archives, with rich collections of Olive Schreiner materials. The HRC collection is referenced as ‘Olive Schreiner, Works, MS-3734’ and consists of a number of sub-sections, including autograph letters, manuscripts and miscellaneous. There are also substantial Schreiner materials in other HRC collections, and these can be easily located by searching in the Finding Aids section of the HRC website.

The HRC Olive Schreiner Works Collection has within it two manuscripts relating to Schreiner’s posthumously published but unfinished novel From Man to Man (FMTM), one of around 26 pages and the other of around 168 pages (because of the changes made, the number of actual sheets of paper in both does not exactly correspond to the run of page numbers).

Comment here is concerned with the shorter of the two HRC FMTM manuscripts, of some 26 pages. However, the two manuscripts are connected and both commentaries and texts should be read together.

These introductory remarks are followed by some comments about the manuscript in relation to the published version, including detailed discussion of such things as paper use, page numbering and the character of the working practices Schreiner was engaging in.


The shorter HRC FMTM manuscript and the published FMTM

Schreiner worked on this shorter HRC FMTM manuscript the sense of changing and condensing from something earlier and adding, deleting and amending while she did so. Her letters once she arrived in Clarens from January 1887 use squared paper, but not before, and the longer of the two HRC manuscripts is predominately on squared paper. She presumably bought the paper while there, and continued using in when back in England and at Gore Street in June 1887. There are some interesting points of difference and also overlaps and similarities between the published FMTM Chapter 1 and this manuscript, as follows.

  1. There is an ‘authorial I’ comment in both the manuscript and the published version. In the manuscript it is a poignant one about sisters in general as well as Bertie in particular.
  2. The manuscript is only part of the published Chapter 1. It finishes at a narrative point before the published Chapter 1 does, although all the core things are present in the manuscript version. However, the published version has more in it, not just in length but in terms of activities and events. It has a lot more activity happening in it, but it also seems quieter, more ordinary and less portentous.
  3. There are things in the manuscript that are not so apparent in the published chapter 1. Frank is more ‘present’ in the manuscript version and with more interaction between him and Rebekah. There is more sense of his sleeping strength and sensuality. The manuscript makes clear Rebekah’s need to ‘get a life’ and she is complicit in Frank poking fun at the father and the little mother.
  4. There are some things in the published chapter that are not in the manuscript. This includes more about Bertie’s involvement with ‘the little niggers’ and their shared childishness (but then, they are children and she is not). In the published chapter, they have become little Kaffirs – only Frank (in a song) and Bertie use the word niggers, not Rebekah. Also, in the published chapter Frank explicitly warns Rebekah about the tutor and Bertie. However, there is more in the manuscript about the greasiness of the tutor, and that a revulsion to him is shared by Rebekah and Frank.
  5. Bertie is described as having a low sloping forehead in the manuscript; in the longer manuscript, the same is said about Bushmen: Bertie is childlike, a lower or primitive type though white. Bertie’s close relationship with Griet and also the little kaffirs is emphasised in both.
  6. Frank’s physical attractiveness and coiled sexual feeling for Rebekah is made more apparent, and Rebekah also seems more central, in the manuscript. And in the manuscript, Frank is written first in a very mannered ‘don’t-ya-know’ kind of way and then he becomes more threateningly quiet. These things are toned down or rather gone from the published chapter.
  7. A chapter title referring to Rebecca as a prig appears in the manuscript but not in the published version. Apart from this, ironies seem more pointed in the published chapter. These include the baboons calling and fighting; and Rebekah feeling the need to go to Bertie’s bedroom to check she is safe and concluding she is
  8. There are some discontinuities in the manuscript. The most obvious is that what Frank smokes changes a few times.
  9. The manuscript version seems quite threatening, as though something not quite right is about to happen.
  10.  All or nearly all the shorter HRC FMTM manuscript can be seen as ‘writing in process’. The amendments made are overwhelmingly made on the hoof, not after the event, and this seems so even regarding the larger excisions. It looks like Schreiner did what she did at pull pelt, with her writing including as a key part of it a set of activities which could be called editing. Most of her changes are humdrum – they buff and polish, rather than slash and cut. They are often concerned with softening, making humdrum and ordinary or plain. Also there are major ones of longer passages, made with much bolder strokes of the pen.

The overall effect is that Schreiner comes across as a careful writer. She is very specific and strains towards crafting something which she tries out, then may change again, or go on, or revert to something earlier – her ‘writing-and-editing’ (it is difficult to know quite what to call it) is done in a very active way.


The details of the shorter FMTM manuscript

This is a handwritten manuscript. It has punch-holes at the top and bottom of the left side, so it has been in a file of some kind or else was tied thus. It is written on the right-side of these folded sheets only; on the left sides are frequent ink-marks where Schreiner has turned the page before the ink was dry. It is in black ink with black ink amendments. The paper as written on is quarto, but of a larger sheet folded to be thus. It is lined with quite wide lines. There is a watermark of white lines running through horizontally, about an inch apart. It is the same kind as the lined paper used in some parts of the longer HRC manuscript relating to FMTM.

 This shorter HRC FMTM manuscript is all on the ordinary lined paper. It is ‘the start’ of the book and has a title page etc and the name of Ralph Iron as author. It has the signs of an early but reasonably clean manuscript. All the page numbers written on it are in Schreiner’s handwriting, as is all the text.

The first two folded sheets = the title, and a blank sheet

The first sheet = a separate sheet, with just the number 1 at the top right

Numbered pages 1 to 5 = separate sheets, and each has been torn from its fellow; the torn edges do not match.

Numbered pages 6 to 7 = neatly torn separate sheets.

Numbered page 7 = the top section is in a spidery ink hand, then the pen has been changed or re-dipped at ‘When she was a little child’.

Numbered pages 8 to 17 = the first half of a folded set of pages, numbered pages 18 to 26 (26 is the last page and there are 2 x page 22) are the other half.

The first seven pages are bits joined together by dint of editing.

Pages 8 to 26 are a complete fold of paper.

The last sheet-fold, page 26, is written on the first side only, as are all the others, and it ends on its last line. There is no sign if this was to be ‘the end’ of this chapter or not as it simply stops at the bottom of the sheet. The first lot of pages, apart from the opening ones, are single sheets. They all have the same holes top and bottom for string or a folder. The sense is that these pages follow on or very nearly so.

There are some ink and writing changes, but not any sudden dramatic ones. The crossings out are very black – it looks like Schreiner re-dipped her pen to make them. On page 7, there is a thin scratchy nib & pale ink at the top 5 lines or so; then a broad nib & much blacker ink. Page 8 seems rather different and might not have ‘really’ followed on. From page 8 to page numbered 21, it looks like it has all been written in one go. Two thirds down on page 21, starting with ‘“You must know Graham...’ the writing is somewhat different, the ink is fainter, and it looks as though it has been resumed here after a break.

On numbered page 26, the crossings out are quite black – made after these pages were written, perhaps. In the earlier part of the manuscript, numbered pages 1 to 8, the editing hand and ink look the same as the writing hand and ink, with one or two exceptions – eg. numbered page 8, line 2, she had always been so busy is crossed through once in bold very black ink, different from the writing, while the changes in ‘As Bertie walked with ^took^ the dalias to the mantle-piece...’ look just like the rest.

It seems possible that numbered pages 1 to 8 are from another version, but written not that far away in time as the paper is the same. There is the watermark of rows of white horizontal lines in the paper-weave and these are the same for all these sheets.

This manuscript starts with a title page, then two blank pages. Page 1 starts with ‘by Ralph Iron’ and ‘Chapter 1. Showing what Baby-Bertie thought of her new tutor; & why Rebekah got married.’ The manuscript just ends at the bottom of p. 26, and it is not made clear whether this is the chapter end or not as the page is full.

 The start is very close to Chapter 1 of the published FMTM, but some aspects are more detailed herein, while other bits of the published version are absent. In particular, there is more interaction between Rebekah and Frank in the second half of these 26 pages than in the published version.

 It seems possible that the passages struck through vertically and in wider blacker ink were made retrospectively, and the rest are writing-in-process. There are occasional single words or a few words struck through with straight or wavy lines in very black ink scattered throughout, and these seem like they were retrospective too. However, this is a matter of nibs and inks and not rocket science. But it is suggestive.