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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS-4b-xx
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date6 July 1888
Address FromRoseneath, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 165-6
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. The beginning of this letter is missing. In the absence of other information, dating the letter follows Cronwright-Schreiner?s The Letters.... Schreiner was resident in Harpenden from mid June to the end of September 1888.
1[page/s missing]
3I can’t write about myself to ^you^ my loved old Harry. You don’t
4understand me any more nor the battle I have to fight, & it is better
5than each man kills his heart alone. In fact it must ?me ^be^ so. I
6would be a great thing if you could bring it out within a couple of
7months. Eleanor Mas has translated the Lady from the sea couldn’t you
8get that & Nora & one other soon Let me know about the intro-duction.
9Mr Parker & Mr Harkness have gone to Norway together. Miss Sharpe &
10Miss ?Eckenstence are going next week to Norway too.
12I haven’t any other news for you. Yes I dare say Edward is quite right.
14Good bye
17Alice Corthorn is here.
19I was very well & strong till Mrs Cobb & the Miss Sharpe came, & now I
20feel like a little child hardly able to creep from one room to another.
21Good bye
23You know what you’ve never understood & what divides between us, is
24the fact that you can’t understand that to feel any human creatures
25hopelessly false is more terrible to me that all poverty all
26loneliness all death. The fact that such a nature as Ed Avelings for
27instance is more terrible more awful do to me does more to criple my
28power of life & work than all the close personal sorrows of my life.
29The think which is great to me & which alone touches me quite close is
30anything bearing on my conception of human nature. It’s not a
31theoretic thing with me, its my passion just as others mens desire for
32love, or ease, or fame is, & as my hunger knowledge pure & simple used
33to be.
35Personally I care nothing for fame or success or still less for love
36Karls or anyone else. I want him to be noble, & want my-self to be so.
37That vision of the of the human soul which I have seen slowly grow
38before me for years & years forming ever since I was a little child is
39the work of art, the perfect the beautiful which alone I desire. Don’t
40write carcastically about this.
42I would like very much to go up to Yorkshire. I have no means to go
43anywhere this summer. Good bye
46You know I don’t mean that I am beautiful. I mean only care for any
47beauty or ugliness as part of the general
49unreadable It only haunts me as an ideal wh like beautiful arms & legs
50haunted Rhodes will he made them & saw them. But the beauty I seek is
51I more & more realize intellectual & it can only be attained through
52the intellect. It is all wise all knowing. Therefore the instinct
53which seeks knowledge first is quite right. After long years perhaps I
54shall understand fully what it is I am how how doing & seeking, but
55now I can’t explain to myself & still less to you, as little as when I
56was a little child I could have explained to any one or myself why I
57had to pray & think all night. I know now. It’s very easy to see. You
58are so beautiful to me so much more noble & true & perfect than I,
59just as Ettie always was than me - & yet, you can’t understand. It’s
60so beautiful to think of you in Yorkshire. I’m going to have a
61splendid time too in the winter get quite up to nature some where
The Eleanor Marx translation is: Henrik Ibsen (1890) The Lady From the Sea (trans. Eleanor Marx Aveling) London: T. Fisher Unwin, while 'that Nora' is: Henrik Ibsen (1882) Nora (later A Doll’s House) (trans. Henrietta Frances Lord) London: Giffith, Farran & Co. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract from this letter is incorrect in various ways.