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Letter ReferenceLetters/515
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter Date13 April 1913
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToCaroline Augusta Foley Rhys Davids nee Foley
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 323-4
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.
1To Mrs. Rhys Davids.
2De Aar, 13th April.
3
4Your P.S. about Trojan Women is most strange to me. If it is a sign of
5great minds to think alike then we must be very great! because what
6you say is the exact expression of my thought on reading Trojan Women
7a few months ago. One of the most wonderful things in all literature
8to me is the appearance of the "Parasite" Helen on that scene of
9woman's suffering and anguish - “She comes through them gentle and
10unafraid: there is no disorder in her dress."
11
12I value your P.S. on this matter so much I am going to fasten it into
13my copy of the Trojan Women. The reading of Gilbert Murray's
14translations of Euripides lately has been a revelation of joy to me.
15The wonderful thing to me is that any man could have written of women
16as he does. But genius has no limit of sex or race. It's curious to
17sit here in this little house in the karroo veld and feel that perhaps
18the thing nearest to you in the world is the brain of that old Greek
19dead now these two thousand years. We who can't read Greek should be
20so grateful to Gilbert Murray for giving him to us. I'm so glad I
21didn't die before I had him.
22
23In a way my little book Woman and Labour is very sad to me. I shall
24never look at it or touch it again. Only that little verse of
25Tennyson's in my dedication to Constance Lytton is one to me always
26beautiful and fresh. The book is such a broken fragment. The first
27part of the whole book, which it seemed to me might have been of a
28little use, was the part dealing with the new moral code which must
29come into being if men and women are to associate freely together on
30equal terms. A "new chivalry," an unwritten code of honour more
31binding than any law, must grow, making many things, not deemed
32criminal now, as criminal as men and women in the past have deemed
33rape and sedition, and, with the rising up of the new code, the
34present ethics of the ball-room and the music-hall must slowly fade
35away. Such works as Wells's New Machiavelli illustrate the ghastly
36condition which arises where the old laws of relation between the
37sexes are broken down and a high code of perfect Truth, openness and
38loyalty in all sex relations has not taken its place. But one need not
39grieve that one's own little world has been lost, because such a law
40is writing, and will and must write, itself in the hearts of the
41noblest men and women and spread slowly from them to others.
42