"Did not see Jan Smuts at Golders Green, new century, try to lead" Read the full letter
Collection Summary | View All |  Arrange By:
< Prev |
Viewing Item
of 1039 | Next >
Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner MSC 26/2.16/492
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeExtract
Letter Date13 June 1909
Address Fromna
Address To
Who ToS.C. (‘Cron’) Cronwright-Schreiner
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 286
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 onto this extract. There are some differences between this transcription and the version that appears in The Letters….
1 …That is an interesting talk of Jerome’s on marriage in the Nation
2you sent me. It takes, in quite another way as to expression but still
3the same, the view I take. The sacrifices which both man & woman are
4compelled to make in marriage, in the doubling of your before free &
5single personality, with all the excitements & pleasure of exercising
6sexual attractions and arranging your life and action for your single
7good pleasure, that, unless deeper than all this the need of the
8closest companionship & permanence, & a delight in sacrifice for the
9thing you “love”, as the mother feels it for her child, & the true
10friend for the true friend - it must of necessity be a failure,
11because this is what marriage has permanently to offer, as nothing
12else has
. The excitement of the sexual chase & capture, the passion of
13courtship, must of necessity be always evanescent. It can no more
14continue than a man’s desire to reach the winning post can continue
15when he has won it and gained the first prize: & the man or woman in
16whom this is the prime necessity should never marry, or marriage must
17be of necessity a tragic failure, not only to the one who feels so but
18to the other. The tragedy of life rises because, when the desire of
19chase and possession is on them, man & woman will often not think
think: “Is my love for that creature so great
21that to share everything with it, to try & beautify its life, to feel
22that till death I can share their joy & sorrow, their sickness &
23health, that they & their life are part of me, will compensate me for
24what I lose?” I believe some people, interesting & charming in many
25ways, are quite incapable of the “love” which alone can make
26married life workable. My great desire for every one I love, man &
27woman, is that they should feel this love & find this companionship;
28but I believe many people are absolutely incapable of it. It is not
29----’s fault that his wife spends all her time dyeing her hair &
30painting herself in trying to attract young men, and spends all his
31money, which he pours out generously at her feet, in this aim. It
32would have been so whomever she had married. I used to think that
33every sad marriage was only a mistake because the wrong people had got
34together; but for some people there is no right person, in the sense
35of being truly married; they could never love anything as well as
36themselves. As ----’s wife once wrote me in a wonderful letter:
37“It’s not his fault we are not happy; what he wants is love &
38companionship: what I want is change & excitement.” Even that man
39unreadable (not her husband) she seemed so especially fond
40in love with she said she knew she would not love always. It’s a
41strange world...