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"Her letters cut are generally nothing of interest" : the Heterotopic Persona of Olive Schreiner and the Alterity-Persona of Cronwright-Schreiner

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The writings of feminist writer and social theorist Olive Schreiner (1855 - 1920), author of The Story of an African Farm, Dreams, From Man to Man, Closer Union, Woman and Labour and Thoughts on South Africa among other works, are usually encountered through these publications, supplemented by the secondary literature on her life and works, rather than archival materials such as the remaining manuscript writings and unpublished letters. Some components of this secondary literature have over time taken on almost primary status: specifically, the biographies by Schreiner's (estranged) husband Samuel 'Cron' Cronwright-Schreiner (The Life) and more recently by Ruth First and Ann Scott, Karel Schoeman (Only An Anguish), and the edited collections of her letters by Cronwright- Schreiner (The Letters), Richard Rive and Yaffa Claire Draznin. Regarding the edited letters, it is not going too far to say that collectively they have come to be treated as though a primary source, in spite of - except in Draznin's exemplary case - their acknowledged deficiencies, and are often quoted from as though providing full and complete versions of Schreiner's letters. The Olive Schreiner Letters Project is in the process of analysing and publishing transcriptions of the Olive Schreiner letters, with the research underpinning this article being part of the project's work.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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