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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner MSC 26/2.16/347
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeExtract
Letter Date25 February 1907
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToS.C. (‘Cron’) Cronwright-Schreiner
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 263-4
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner were produced by Cronwright-Schreiner in preparing The Life and The Letters of Olive Schreiner. They appear on slips of paper in his writing, taken from letters that were then destroyed; many of these extracts have also been edited by him. They are artefacts of his editorial practices and their relationship to original Schreiner letters cannot now be gauged. They should be read with considerable caution for the reasons given. Cronwright-Schreiner has written the date and where it was sent from onto this extract, and that in her letter Olive Schreiner was comparing a Swedish novel with From Man to Man. There are some differences between this transcription and the version that appears in The Letters....
1 …It is interesting because I am a woman & he is a man. It’s very
2curious. If my book hadn’t been written years ago, & this part not
3even re-written of late, one would really say, ‘Well, one must be
4copying from the other’. Of course the stories are quite different.
5After all, if a thing be true, it must come to thousands of minds, it
6must live in millions of hearts; & that makes the use of a writer: not
7that he expresses what no one else thinks & feels, but that he is the
8voice for what others feel & can’t say. If only the powers that
9shape existence give me the strength to finish this book, I shall not
10have that agonised feeling over my life that I have over the last ten
11years, that I have done nothing of good for any human creature. I am
12not sure of the book’s artistic worth: to judge of that from the
13purely intellectual standpoint one must stand at a distance from
14one’s own or any one else’s work. But I know it gives a voice to
15what exists in the hearts of many women & some men, I know I have only
16tried to give expression to what was absolutely forced on me, that I
17have not made up one line for the sake of making it up…
‘This book’ which Schreiner wants strength to finish is From Man to Man.