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Letter ReferenceLetters/264
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter Date27 January 1888
Address FromAlassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 129-30
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Letters of Olive Schreiner, with few exceptions he then destroyed her originals. However, some people gave him copies and kept the originals or demanded the return of these; and when actual Schreiner letters can be compared with his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Where Schreiner originals have survived, these will be found in the relevant collections across the OSLO website. There is however a residue of some 587 items in The Letters for which no originals are extant. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, their relationship to Schreiners actual letters cannot now be gauged, and so they should be read with caution for the reasons given. Cronwright-Schreiner has supplied the ‘missing’ word ‘brain-worker’ towards the end of the letter.
1To Havelock Ellis.
2Alassio, 27th Jan.
3
4You don't realise what a very brave thing a man in Pearson's position
5has done in printing that book at all. Anything approaching to that
6has never been published in England before by a professor in a college
7or university. The question is not: Is Pearson a genius? Is he
8original? Can a flaw be found in his argument? But is he giving
9utterance as a social thinker and teacher to views we can sympathise
10with? A reviewer is writing, not, as the essayist and artist, for
11himself, but as a critic he stands between the public and the thought
12and literature of the day, to guide and lead them. To me the work of
13the reviewer is as sacred and high as that of the poet and the thinker,
14 or rather it is like that of the preacher. ... I have been working in
15great mental agony to-day. Sometimes I get almost practically blind, I
16can't see before me when I am walking, and then small external things
17crush me. I am writing about those two terrible women, Veronica and
18Mrs. Drummond. It is so terrible to have to realise them and grapple
19with them. I bear all kinds of wickedness, but not meanness and
20smallness. I shall be so glad to get back to Bertie and Rebekah, my
21beloveds. If they are ever so real to anyone as to me, how real they
22will be! ... You know, if I had been married when I was twenty three,
23ten years ago, my life would have been quite different and my strength
24much greater. This celibacy has not been good for me; but it would
25have been worse to marry any man I have ever seen; except possibly one.
26 I mean that I am sure celibacy is not good for the brain of a
27continual [brain-worker] . Schopenhauer, Goethe, Shakespeare; no really
28great steady thinker has ever been celibate. You must marry some day.
29
Notation
Veronica, Mrs Drummond, Bertie and Rebekah are characters in From Man to Man.