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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4b-xii
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date13 May 1890
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 185-6; Rive 1987: 170-1; Draznin 1992: 460-2
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
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.
2May 13 / 90
4I got your journal letter & liked it. Did Symons have to pay on the
5post card I sent him?
7Isn’t it curious that I only wish to be with you in Paris. That I
8never feel the least desire ever to see London again. Whether it will
9wake up again some day I don’t know. I have got quite out of that
10objective happy state. I am working and suffering greatly from from
11depression. I am sure this absolutely solitary life is good for no
12human being, but to take a change of a week after every three or four
13weeks of solitude which would be good is too expensive, especially in
14this country.
16The man to whom this place belongs Mr. Logan, is going to call the
17house I am in Schreiner house after me. I think that’s the only news.
18I am waiting now for the train to come that I may have go & have my
19dinner. It’s very cold
21I haven’t seen the Review of Reviews, but Mrs. Philpot writes me that
22there’s a portrait in it, & a review by Stead of my Dream. The
23Spectator says, it is quite wonderfully written, but shows not only a
24want of reverance, but the lack of the power of feeling reverence.
25Please send me reviews of it if you see any, because I am so curious
26to know whether ordinary folk will see that what is about at all. John
thought it was about “drinking” & my mother says she didn't
28know what it’s about! That’s rather encouraging! Except once, when
29Will came & put his head by me & spoke kindly to me, I’ve not had
30anyone say anything gentle to me since I left England. It seems to me
31I did n’t prize all the love that was given me in England half enough,
32& I shall never go back again. I should like S.A.F. to be published in
33that Review, but I doubt whether French people would care for it,
34Germans ought to. I have just been reading Ohnets The Last Love. It is
35as near me as any French novel could be, but the only French writes I
36know for whom I feel sympathy are Renan, & George Sand, the others I
37only admire, I don’t like or enjoy. I like French people best of all
38people; I doubt I whether I could ever get to really love one, French
39person, they don’t touch me; they are interesting & nice.
41Please write me as long letters as don’t interfere with your work. I
42can’t write you a journal because there’s nothing to say, & if one
43writes anything about oneself one cries out, & one shouldn’t. All
I wonder whether the work I am doing now is good; there are
45times when I feel so indifferent, you know I love my people & I should
46like other people to know & love them, but all, I don’t know what to
47call it it’s not ambition, but it’s the something that drives you to
48express to others, seems dead. I don’t want to tell anyone, it’s
49enough that I feel & know & have seen it.
51Good night. I’ve talked long enough. The wind is blowing out side &
52its very cold, & I’m getting faint with waiting for my dinner.
56This is a Karroo, plant. The plants here are so beautiful to me & the
57red sand. The plants seem to me like living things & I love them so, I
58like to touch them. When I wake up in the night I think I shall seen
59them the next day. They are the only I things I feel near to in Africa,
60 & the sky & the stars & the mountains. I like the ants too. & the
61little mierkats I could never love the nature in Europe as I love this
62The only thing I ever loved there, was the Alps in winter, & the sea
63in the Riviera. If ever you go to Italy go & see Alassio & my Ruined
64Chapel. I like to think you will see it one day, but it will he quite
65a common place to you like any other place, & to me it is so wonderful.
66 I can’t think that it’s only a little more than a year since I was in
67Italy. It seems so long ago. I have changed so. Good night again
69Your little Olive
The 'Review' mentioned was actually a 'notice' of Schreiner's allegory 'The Sunlight Lay Across My Bed', which appeared under the heading of 'A Vision of Hell. By Olive Schreiner'; see ‘A Vision of Hell’ Review of Reviews April 1890, p.317. See also 'The Sunlight Lay Across My Bed; Part I - Hell' New Review vol 1, no.11, April 1890, pp.300-309. The book referred to is: Georges Ohnet (1890) A Last Love London: Chatto and Windus. Draznin’s (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive’s (1987) version is in a number of respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.