Undine, Olive Schreiner's first completed novel, was only published after her death. It tells the story of a South African-born woman, who grows up on a Karoo farm but has relatives in England. After a succession of traumatic relationships, she returns as a young widow to South Africa, and goes to work as an ironing-woman on the Diamond Fields. Having learned of the death of her first love, settled at New Rush with his wife and son, Undine steals into the tent where his body is awaiting burial and kisses him farewell. Within a short time Undine too is dead. A brief review is offered here of some earlier accounts of Schreiner's novel and of its place in the context of her oeuvre. The novel alludes richly to Schreiner's childhood and youthful reading: this essay concentrates especially on the possibility that she knew the German Undine (1811) of Fouqué and goes on to explore some of the parallels between the two stories.
As a stand-alone text, Olive Schreiner's novel From Man to Man, or Perhaps Only - (1926) has been out of print since the mid-1990s and has never had South African publication. Moreover, its various print versions are all more or less flawed by unsatisfactory editing and proofreading. Along with a detailed assessment of the editorial practice of S. C. Cronwright-Schreiner, Schreiner's husband, biographer, editor, sometime co-writer and ambiguous caretaker of her literary remains, preparation of a new edition of the novel, forthcoming from University of Cape Town Press, has been facilitated by the use of Schreiner's 1911 typescript of the Prelude and chapters I to VI of the novel as the primary copy-text. This typescript has hitherto not been consulted by Schreiner critics. The novel is rightly regarded as incompletely revised and as unfinished, but its unfinished nature deserves reconsideration as an indication of Schreiner's interest in process, allowing us to see the "unfinished" in thematic terms.
There is a gap between Olive Schreiner's impressive output of publications, and the 'damaged, unproductive' view prevalent in early biographical writing about her, which has occurred in significant part as the result of the authorial and editorial activities of her estranged husband. For readers who want to explore further, earlier editions of Schreiner's letters have suffered from similar problems of selectivity and interpretive heavy-handedness. However, a number of issues which have arisen in two different approaches to editing - in producing the complete Olive Schreiner Letters Online and the print selection The World's Great Question - are discussed. These suggest that the relationship between the reader, the text and the editor has some intractable aspects and that re-positioning the reader in relation to the text needs to take full account of the 'lateness of the reader' and the insoluble problems surrounding this.
This essay argues that Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm, a novel based on autobiographical fragments, depicts an all-pervasive psychic fragmentation with respect to the unconscious. In particular, two Jungian systems - the Kore and the stages of eroticism - reveal the characters' psychic fragmentation with respect to the anima. Among the novel's male characters, Waldo Farber and Gregory Nazianzen Rose receive detailed analysis, especially with regard to the anima's maternal aspect. Waldo is associated with the maternal through his creation over two nine-month periods of a sheep-shearing machine and a burial post. Also, his attraction to the primitive and his shadow work with other men precede and enable his interest in marrying Lyndall. Gregory, though his relationship to the anima is complicated by cross-dressing, achieves a motherly Christ-like orientation as Lyndall's nurse. His name alludes to Saint Gregory Nazianzen, whose theological positions point affirmatively toward individuation, wholeness, and unity. But while both young men make some progress, neither properly overcomes his psychic fragmentation to achieve an ideal contra-sexual relationship. As the novel closes, significant individuation remains a far-off destination.
The extracts which we print and annotate below are from eight diaries formerly in the possession of the National English Literary Museum (NELM) and written by Olive Schreiner's husband, Samuel Cronwright, from 7 June 1921 to 13 May 1926. They are described in detail by Guy Butler on pages 16 and 17 of Walters and Fogg, Olive Schreiner: Her Reinterment on Buffelskop, which itself derives almost wholly from Diary 1. As we worked our way through these diaries, it seemed a pity not to publish - for the benefit of Schreiner scholars and enthusiasts - the many references to Schreiner and Cronwright's relationship with her which are scattered through their pages. As these diaries - together with the whole Cronwright collection which Cronwright originally left with his brother in Grahamstown when the latter was Manager of the EP Guardian, Loan and Investment Company - have now been removed from NELM's care by Cronwright's grandson (presumably for sale and disposal elsewhere), the publication of these fragments is perhaps of greater importance than when this project was originally undertaken in 2007.
Thus Samuel Cron Cronwright-Schreiner in the "Preface" to his Life of Olive Schreiner (1924). Even at the remove of more than 90 years, these read as extremely strong claims. Volumes could be written about what Cronwright might/might not have meant by the "correctness" of his biography of his famous wife as well as the deconstruction of such loaded terms as "unusual personality" and "so complex and baffling a human being." Ten years after the publication of the Life, Cronwright (1934) himself unintentionally provided a further intriguing sense of what that "correctness" might in fact have concealed in the last letter he wrote to Havelock Ellis (10 Sept 1934, HRHRC).