"Desire for self-expression not sermonising, writing desecrated by showing to others" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceEdward Carpenter 359/3
ArchiveSheffield Archives, Archives & Local Studies, Sheffield
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date11 April 1887
Address FromGrand Hotel, Alassio, Italy
Address To
Who ToEdward Carpenter
Other VersionsRive 1987: 124-5
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to the Sheffield Archives, Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information Services, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Archive Collections.
1 Grand Hotel
2 Alassio
3 Italy
4 April 11 / 87
5
6 Dear Edward Carpenter
7
8 Your card was forwarded me here. Thankyou for your the paper. All
9socialist news is of intense interest, & I hear none.
10
11 //I want to know about the book, & also I want to repeat my suggestion
12that you should reprint in the form of a leaflet that page in Towards
13Dem. called Have Faith, for the use of those in physical suffering
14especially.
15
16 I cannot tell you how valuable that first section of Have Faith is. So
17exceedingly common place as it seems in one sense, it puts better than
18is put anywhere else to my knowledge that profound & all comforting
19truth of the compensation that underlies life. Please do this.
20
21 You must have had a good time at Sheffield with Mrs Wilson & ?Krop.
22There are times when I feel a longing for human intercourse & sympathy,
23 but it is best I should be alone.
24
25 When I have earned 40 pounds I am going to buy a tiny cottage
26somewhere in Switzerland with a garden & live there. I know by
27experience what that life means, how much of freedom & joy. It’s
28usually true how in such a life one almost has to give up animal food
29because one can’t kill the things!!
30
31 I am able to work again. It is very splendid. I was ill at Mendrisio,
32I thought I should not get well again, but I am all right now. Are you
33well? I would like in your letters a little more about yourself:
34
35 Have you read Karl Pearson’s pamphlet "Sex & Socialism", just
36published? What do you think of it. It expresses most exactly my views
37on the subject except with regard to the state supporting the
38childbearing woman &c.
39
40 Perhaps it’s better you shouldn’t see him just now. We have each
41to fight out our lives alone, we can never intentionally help other
42people, the help comes by accident when it comes.
43 I have not heard anything of him since I left England.
44
45 I don’t think I have anything for the song book. When I make verse
46it is something too irregular to be sung.
47
48 The sun is very glorious here, something so infinitely "smoothing" is
49in this sea & sky, it is as if something was stroking you, but it
50doesn’t touch or help me as Switzerland does. Oh to wake up & see
51the sun rising with a sheen of pink over all the snow fields! It is
52something worth having lived for.
53
54 Why am I having all this rest & pleasure, when you are all in the dark
55fighting
56
57 There is something I thought of last night in bed that I wanted to say
58to you; now I can’t remember it, so this must go without it.
59
60 Yours with love
61 Olive Schreiner
62
63 You are right about the simplification of life, it is not a branch
64question, it is a root question.
65
66 ^We have little shocks of earthquake here every day. I am living in an
67empty Hotel from which every one has fled who could. It is very quiet
68& good for work. I can walk alone on the terrace all day with the sea
69& sunlight.^
70
71
72
Notation
The books referred to are: Karl Pearson (1887) Socialism and Sex London: W. Reeves, later included in his The Ethic of Freethought: A Selection of essays and lectures London: T. Fisher Unwin; Edward Carpenter (1888) Chants of Labour London: Swan Sonnenschein. For Carpenter's 'simplification of life' ideas, see Edward Carpenter (1905) The Simplification of Life: From the Writings of Edward Carpenter (ed. Harry Roberts) London: A. Treherne & Co. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter.