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Stubborn referentialities: The Olive Schreiner epistolarium & the South African past: 

Stubborn referentialities: The Olive Schreiner epistolarium & the South African past The Mss Schreiner The Schreiner epistolarium Rhodes, the ‘great might have been’ ‘A whole new story’ –Trooper Peter Halket… & Rhodes at the hanging tree Outslimming ‘slim Jannie’ Stubborn referentialities Liz Stanley University of Edinburgh

Schreiner’s main publications The Story of an African Farm (1883) Dreams (1890) Dream Life and Real Life (1893) The Political Situation (1896) Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland (1897) ‘The Woman Question’ (1899) An English South African’s View of the Situation (1899) ‘An interview with Olive Schreiner’ (in Hobson 1900) Closer Union (1909) Woman and Labour (1911) ‘The Dawn of Civilisation’ (post. 1921) Thoughts on South Africa (post. 1923, orig 1890+) Stories, Dreams and Allegories (post. 1924) The Letters of Olive Schreiner (post. 1924) From Man to Man (post. 1926) Undine (post. 1929) : 

Schreiner’s main publications The Story of an African Farm (1883) Dreams (1890) Dream Life and Real Life (1893) The Political Situation (1896) Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland (1897) ‘The Woman Question’ (1899) An English South African’s View of the Situation (1899) ‘An interview with Olive Schreiner’ (in Hobson 1900) Closer Union (1909) Woman and Labour (1911) ‘The Dawn of Civilisation’ (post. 1921) Thoughts on South Africa (post. 1923, orig 1890+) Stories, Dreams and Allegories (post. 1924) The Letters of Olive Schreiner (post. 1924) From Man to Man (post. 1926) Undine (post. 1929) Manuscript sources (excluding letters) Humanities Research Centre, Texas National English Literary Museum, Grahamstown South African Library, Cape Town

Slide3: 

around 25,000 letters & other epistolary matter, of which c7,000 now extant on 3 continents, in 10 major archives, & around 40 significant collections present edited collections = SCCS Cronwright-Schreiner (1924) The Letters of Olive Schreiner Richard Rive (1987) The Letters of Olive Schreiner vol 1 (nb. no vol 2) Yaffa Claire Draznin (1992) My Other Self: The Letters of Olive Schreiner and Havelock Ellis 1884 - 1920

The Schreiner epistolarium: 

The Schreiner epistolarium “…I turn with such a keen kind of relish to the external world… I have the same kind of feelings to objective things that a person has to solid food who has been ill for months and begins to eat again; it is something quite different from ordinary hunger. My nature craves it…” (OS to HE, 25 April 1890)

an epistolarium …: 

an epistolarium … ‘the letters’ as an epistolary record in its own right the [unknown] relationship between the total surviving letters and those destroyed the relationship of manuscript letters with ‘ur-letters’ produced by transcribing, selection & publication

Slide6: 

It has its own ‘shape’ or structure, concerning sets of correspondents temporal dimensions elisions & silences gaps & destructions interpretational framing by the canonical Schreiner scholarship

Slide7: 

It has its own ‘shape’ or structure There is an emergent but internally consistent epistolary ‘voice’, involving a marked inversion of public & private writing practices invoking silence & use of the impersonal form ‘one’ the use of fictive devices tailored to interests of & relationship with particular correspondents changes over time & an emergent inter-personal epistolary ethics

Slide8: 

It has its own ‘shape’ or structure There is an emergent but internally consistent epistolary ‘voice’ A strong referential basis linking text, people, context & action the letters have particular meaning because to & from people involved in ‘events’ a dialogical relationship both within & outside the letters a part of producing, not just commenting on, political change

Slide9: 

The Schreiner epistolarium has its own ‘shape’ or structure There is an emergent but internally consistent epistolary ‘voice’ A strong referential claim links text, people, context, action

Rhodes, the ‘almighty might-have-been’: 

Rhodes, the ‘almighty might-have-been’ a man of genius who enlarges the horizon OS ‘shrinks’ from any public or private association with him he has looked good & evil in the face & deliberately chosen evil he sees things & people ‘without a veil’ he corrupts: thro money & power, magnetism, also love & trust the evil lust for gold & Empire, doing anything to achieve his ends it’s a system (monopoly, capital, speculation, exploitation) & not a man, but something in SA has fed & built ‘him’ up systemically ‘he’ strikes back thro intermediaries at anyone who opposes this system the Raid broke his main power-base, but… his ‘wriggling’: he might always come back, by any means he can provoking & orchestrating a war is his last card, something to use to regain power the war will not crush the Boer Republics, because of how they will fight, but destroy Br influence in SA its aftermath will bring Union, but this will be retrograde politically eventually, in 50 years or so, ‘as we have sown so shall we reap’ with regard to ‘the native question’ as set up by ‘Rhodes’

‘A whole new story’: Trooper Peter Halket… & Rhodes at the hanging tree: 

‘A whole new story’: Trooper Peter Halket… & Rhodes at the hanging tree “About six o’clock I woke, & jumped out of bed[.] Cron asked me what was the matter, & I said a whole new story had come to me just as I woke, & I told him all just as it stands but short...” (OS to Ettie Stakesby Lewis, 25 December 1901, UCT BC1080)

Slide14: 

“I have Did I tell you I’d been writing an allegory story here called “Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland.” I haven’t quite done it yet…” (OS to GW Cross, 5 Feb ?1896, Cory MS 14, 462) “About six o’clock I woke, & jumped out of bed[.] Cron asked me what was the matter, & I said a whole new story had come to me just as I woke, & I told him all just as it stands but short...” (OS to Ettie Stakesby Lewis, 25 December 1901, UCT BC1080)

Slide15: 

1. Schreiner’s ‘getting of wisdom’ about Rhodes, the ‘almighty might-have-been’ “He might have all that was best & greatest in South Africa to his side. ‘We that would have loved him so, honoured him, followed him!” – but he has chosen, not only to choose the worst men as his instruments, but to act on men always through the lowest sides of their nature, to lead them through a narrow self-interest instead of animating them with large enthusiasms. And he might have done it! … For the present I feel to him not as to a man who has only one path open to him, but as to a man who had, & who has looked steadily & carefully at both, & chosen the lower! He is to me an almighty, might-have-been.” (OS to Will Schreiner, 13 August 1895, UCT BC!^) 2. The tragedy of Rhodes for South Africa “We fight Rhodes because he means so much of oppression, injustice, & moral degradation in South Africa; - but if he passed away tomorrow there still remains the terrible fact that something in our society has formed the matrix which has fed, nourished, & built up such a man! It is the far future of Africa during the next twenty-five or fifty years which depresses me. I believe we are standing on the top of a long down-ward slope.” (OS to John X. Merriman, 3 April 1897, SAL MSC 15)

The ‘full fledged’ Trooper Peter Halket (i) ‘came so completely & at once’: 

The ‘full fledged’ Trooper Peter Halket (i) ‘came so completely & at once’ “All my stories come to me that way I never consciously try to make one, but none except Peter Halket ever came so completely & at once, they are sometimes only in bits for months before they are ready. With Peter Halket I was at the Kowie & had slept heavily all night from one o’clock, a most unusual thing with me. About six o’clock I woke, & jumped out of bed[.] Cron asked me what was the matter, & I said a whole new story had come to me just as I woke, & I told him all just as it stands but short. I had nothing further from my thoughts that the writing of such a book the night before & I was busy on my stray thoughts [a book of that title]. I just as I opened my eyes saw Peter Halket on the kopje & heard the voices talking.” (OS to Ettie Stakesby-Lewis, 25 December 1901, UCT BC1080)

The ‘full fledged’ Trooper Peter Halket (ii) ‘copying out’: 

The ‘full fledged’ Trooper Peter Halket (ii) ‘copying out’ “I have been copying out a little bit of my Allegory story about Mashonaland. It’s curious but I would give hundreds of pounds if that story had never come to me, & yet now I feel I must publish it. It will make Rhodes & the Chartered Company very bitter against me & all conflict is so terrible.” (OS to Betty Molteno, Wednesday, ?30 September 1896. UCT BC16) “I’ll send you my story Peter Halket when I’ve done copying it out. I know you will call it a Christian story, but it’s not, it’s only human!!!!!” (OS to Betty Molteno, 21 October 1896. UCT BC16)

The ‘full fledged’ Trooper Peter Halket (iii) proofs of facticity: 

The ‘full fledged’ Trooper Peter Halket (iii) proofs of facticity “With regard to Peter Halket being over drawn, dear Laddie; perhaps much as you know about most points connected with South Africa more than I do; I may know some aspects of the Northern matter better. You see I have known intimately such numbers of young men up there, & from their letters, the journals they have sent me, & from the conversations we have had with some of them in Kimberley when they came down…” (OS to Will Schreiner, 15 March 1897, UCT BC16) “I wish I could write you a long letter & tell you of some facts I know with regard to Chartered doings in the North. I fancy few people have been in the position to learn all we know…..” (OS to Will Schreiner, 18 March 1897, UCT BC16) “Did I tell you of the educated Christian Kaffir who came to see us the other day? I fancy I did. He had been up in Matabele-land talking to the chiefs and indunas there… The Chartered Company are trying to drive them down into the fever swamps to live where they all must die by inches. Ah my dear friend, it is these things that are so terrible to me. Sometimes I feel ashamed to look at a black man. But we can but each of us live out our little life, doing the best we can with the little fragment of strength that is given us.” (OS to Betty Molteno 16 December 1897, UCT BC16)

Slide19: 

Ambiguity of claims & status Over-complicated reading practices to ‘get the point’ If factual, then fictive elements devalued

Slide20: 

“… Yesterday I read of the troubles in Port Elizabeth. I wish I knew you will [sic] taking as broad & sane a view on our native problem as you took on many European points when you were there. The next few years are going to determine the whole future of South Africa in 30 or 40 years time. As we sow we shall reap. We may crush the mass of our fellows in South Africa today, as Russia did for generations, but today the serf is in the Palace & where is the Czar? … Jan dear, you are having your last throw; throw it right this time. You are such a wonderfully brilliant & gifted man, & yet there are sometimes things which a simple child might see which you don’t! You see close at hand - but you don’t see far enough… This is the 20th century; the past is past never to return, even in South Africa. The day of princes, & Bosses, is gone forever: one must meet the incoming tide & rise on it, or be swept away forever.” [OS to Jan Smuts, 28 Oct 1920, Pretoria Smuts] Out-slimming ‘slim Jannie’

Slide21: 

“Give my love to Neif Jan. Tell him to take care of my Indians & Natives for me while I’m away!” [OS to Isie Smuts, 18 Oct 1920, Pretoria Smuts]

Slide22: 

“Give my love to Neif Jan. Tell him to take care of my Indians & Natives for me while I’m away! Oh, Isie dear, if one has suffered so much as I have all my life since I was a girl, & especially in these last years, one realizes how unnecessary it is we should ever inflict suffering on each other. It we human creatures did nothing, but help & deal generously with one another, life still inflicts physical anguish enough on us to make human life bitter. … I suppose you won’t be coming down to Cape Town till parliament meets. I don’t agree with my husband that Gladstone ought to be recalled, as we might get some one worse in his place, & I don’t wish the ministry to resign. Except Jan & Malan you have no men of great ability in this ministry, but if another government came in with such men as Fichart & Freemantle in it should we not be much worse off? The outlook in Africa depresses me terribly. Goodbye dear.” [OS to Isie Smuts, 18 Oct 1920, Pretoria Smuts]

Slide23: 

“Jan dear, you are having your last throw; throw it right this time. You are such a wonderfully brilliant & gifted man, & yet there are sometimes things which a simple child might see which you don’t! You see close at hand - but you don’t see far enough. I do hope you will get Isie to come down when the parliament meets. I want so to see her. Thine ever Olive This is the 20th century; the past is past never to return, even in South Africa. The day of princes, & Bosses, is gone forever: one must meet the incoming tide & rise on it, or be swept away forever.” [OS to Jan Smuts, 28 Oct 1920, Pretoria Smuts]

Stubborn referentialities: Some concluding comments: 

Stubborn referentialities: Some concluding comments

Slide25: 

Manchester University Press 2006 ISBN 0-7-190-6568-2

Slide26: 

Helen Dampier & Liz Stanley (2007) “Parallel Narratives: Photographs in Boer Women’s Testimonies”, ‘Narrative and Fiction’ Conference, University of Huddersfield. (2007, in press) “Cultural Entrepreneurs, Proto-Nationalism and Women’s Testimony Writings: From the South African War 1899/1902 to 1948” Journal of Southern African Studies Margaretta Jolly & Liz Stanley (2005) “Letters as / not a genre” Life Writing 2: 75-101. Liz Stanley (2007, in press) “‘Views don’t make any difference between friends’: dealing with political disagreements in some Olive Schreiner franchise letters” South African Historical Journal. (2006) Mourning Becomes…Post/Memory, Commemoration & the Concentration Camps of the South African War Manchester: Manchester University Press; and New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. (2004) “The epistolarium: on theorising letters and correspondences” Auto/Biography 12: 216-50. (2002) Imperialism, Labour and the New Woman: Olive Schreiner’s Social Theory Durham, UK: sociologypress. (2002) “‘Shadows lying across her pages’: Epistolary aspects of reading ‘the eventful I’ in Olive Schreiner’s letters 1889 – 1913” Journal of European Studies 32: 251-66. (2002) “Mourning becomes…: the work of feminism in the spaces between lives lived and lives written” Women’s Studies International Forum 25: 1-17. (2001) "Mimesis and metaphor in the interpretation of lives: holding out an Olive branch to Schreiner criticism” Women's History Review 9:27-50. (2000) "How do we know about past lives? Methodological and epistemological matters" in (ed) Alison Donnell and Pauline Polkey Representing Women’s Lives: Women and Auto/Biography London: Macmillan: 3-21. (1999) “Is there life in the contact zone? Auto/biographical practices and the field of representation in writing past lives" in (ed) Pauline Polkey Women’s Lives Into Print: The Theory, Practice and Writing of Feminist Auto/Biography London: Macmillan: 3-30. (1993) "On auto/biography in sociology" Sociology 27:1 pp.41-52 (republished in (ed, 2006) Robert L. Miller Biographical Research Methods London: Sage Publications). (1992) The Auto/Biographical I: Theory and Practice of Feminist Auto/Biography Manchester University Press, Manchester. (1989) 'Olive Schreiner: free women, all women' in (ed) Janet Todd Dictionary of British Women Writers Routledge, London: 593-597. (1985) "Feminism and friendship: two essays on Olive Schreiner" Studies in Sexual Politics no.8, Sociology Department, University of Manchester. (1983) 'New women, free women, all women: Olive Schreiner' in (ed) Dale Spender Feminist Theorists The Women's Press, London: 229-243. Liz Stanley & Helen Dampier (2007, in press) “Fictive and factive devices in Olive Schreiner’s Letters and her Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland” in (eds) Kate Milnes et al Narrative and Fiction Huddersfield, UK: University of Huddersfield Press. (2006) “Simulacrum diaries: Time, the ‘moment of writing’ and the diaries of Johanna Brandt-Van Warmelo” Life Writing 3: 25-52. (2006) “Knowledge, the ‘moment of writing’ and the simulacrum diaries of Johanna Brandt-Van Warmelo in (ed) Kate Milnes et al Narrative, Memory and Knowledge Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield.