"South African whites all philistines, no classes" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/3a-xii
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date21 November 1884
Address From144 Marina, St Leonards, East Sussex
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 46, 46; Draznin 1992: 223-4
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. This letter has been dated by reference to an associated envelope and its postmark. Schreiner was resident in St Leonards at different addresses from mid October 1884 to the end of April 1885. The start of the letter is missing. The final insertion is written on the back of the envelope.
1[page/s missing]
2
3when I was ill. These things are somewhat sore to me. I have supported
4myself ever since I was a child. It is not easy now for the first time
5to stand as a beggar. If I went to Africa of course I should take a
6situation as teacher & go back to my old life.
7
8I was very well, in my chest, the first five months I was in England.
9It was as soon as I went to Endle Street that my chest got bad.
10
11Cousin Pons is at the end of that vol. I have read any French the last
12day or two. Isn’t Taine splendid. He’s so true. I have been looking
13all through the last vol & I have not yet found one word that does not
14appear to me true. The work seems to me a work of genius as much as
15any novel or poem could be. His remarks on Dickens are simply the
16perfection of criticism.
17
18I am not adding to the my book. I grows smaller & smaller. I am sure
19that all I am doing is improvement. Condens, condense, condense.
20
21But it’s the most mentally wearing work. To cut out these few parts
22has cost me mentally more than to write the whole. When I am doing I
23do not alter much. I generally write things off best at first; the
24passionate parts, & leading scenes I never need to touch but the
25little bits between where there is not such intense feeling to guide
26one have to be thought over. I do not remember Undine at all. I think
27that Frank was Undine’s stepbrother so no relation to Aunt Margaret at
28all, perhaps I meant to make out that he was her nephew & that she
29couldn’t marry him. I am unwell. Perhaps I shall be better now. I want
30you so close close to me that I can talk nicely to you. Yes, I shall
31always wish we had been able to go to Eastbourne.
32
33I wonder how you feel this evening, just what you are doing. I don’t
34like you to have such a singing in your ears. Perhaps you are wanting
35a letter from me & I couldn’t send one. When it begins to be time for
36your letters to come I just get restless & walk about the room.
37
38Have you heard from Miss Jones when she is coming down?
39
40Aco Good bye. my other-self. Please don’t reel far from me; not in
41soul spirit or body. I have such a need of you.
42Olive
43
44I have read that book; think the poems good. Will send it when I can
45get out.
46
47^Tain’s “English Literature” is splendid!^
48
Notation
'Condensing' refers to the manuscript of From Man to Man. Balzac's Cousin Pons was first translated by Schreiner's friend Philip Kent; see Honore de Balzac (1894) Cousin Pons (trans. Philip Kent) London: F. Warne & Co. The book referred to is: Hippolyte Taine (1871) History of English Literature Edinburgh: Edmonson & Douglas. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.