History Alive

Sunday, August 23, 2020

My reading of the works of past authors has taken me down a long road, and finally, to the works of Olive Schreiner (1885-1920), a South African, an intellectual, and one of the first feminist writers. She had a fascinating life story, as one of twelve children born to missionary parents living in South Africa and most often impoverished. Schreiner forged a way of her own, thinking through her personal religious conflicts, managing to gain some formal education, and becoming eventually a published writer. Her best-known work, a novel, “The Story of An African Farm”, is in the public domain. Recently, I began reading it.

She published this novel in 1883 under the pseudonym, Ralph Iron. I’ve been interested in how writings from that time might have expressed a newly-evolving awareness of feminism. I found a copy of “The Story of An African Farm, and began reading. It’s very serious and slow-going. The descriptions of situations in the story are serious and written very carefully. I’m having a problem in that her countings of people and their thoughts offer visuals that are comical by today’s standards. But I’m a student of pioneers of social thinking, who also are early activists, and will plow on to read with determination. After all, this novel still is viable after 127 years!

Most of us hope to gain a viable understanding of what’s around us, and for the skill to explain well what we see and experience. I’ll be trying to discover in Schreiner’s work the lines of thought lending themselves into a direction that has led to modern social development. Maybe she’ll become one of my heros.

Dear Friends: We musn’t take for granted today’s freedoms of place and thought. Diana

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