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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: SMD 30/33 h(ii)
ArchiveNational English Literary Museum, Grahamstown
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date3 August 1910
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToAdela Villiers Smith nee Villiers
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National English Literary Museum (NELM) for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. This typescripted extract from a letter to Adela Villiers Smith was produced by Cronwright-Schreiner using original letters when he was preparing The Life... (1924) and The Letters of Olive Schreiner (1924). With a few exceptions, the original letters in his possession were then destroyed, as with many Schreiner letters he had been given by Adela Villiers Smith. When Schreiner’s originals can be compared, this shows his versions to be severely shortened, and/or inaccurate in sometimes minor but sometimes major respects, while their frequent multiple dates (eg. 8-15 August, or August) indicate that he often combined a number of original letters, among other bowdlerisations and intrusions as well as deletions. While this surviving Villiers Smith extract, archived among Cronwright-Schreiner’s miscellaneous papers, is affected by the same problems, it is provided for the sake of completeness, because it gives clues as to where Schreiner was resident, and indicates some of her activities. However, it should be read and used with considerable caution for the reasons spelled out here.
1To Mrs. Francis Smith
2De Aar, 3rd Aug. 1910
4 … I am trying Upton Sinclair’s starving plan, absolute fasting. I have
5just begun; for 42 hours I have now tasted nothing but two cups of
6water, very small ones. If the de Aar water was good and I could drink
7much, which is allowed I think it would be much better. I shall keep
8on till next Thursday night. That will be 108 hours. If I find that it
9does good I’ll try it for ten days. I’m afraid you couldn’t try it if
10you are too thin. Last night I still felt hungry and when I saw my
11husband eating his supper wished so much for a slice of brown bread.
12Now I have got to the point where you feel a dislike for food or drink.
13 It is very cold weather here. We had 6 degrees of frost last night:
14the only drawback is that (it) feels a little cold. I think summer
15would be the best time to try it. I wonder if the doctors have ever
16tried it for you. The idea is that it takes all the poison germs out
17of the system.