Olive Schreiner's Fiction: Landscape and Power

Rutgers University Press, 1991 - 201 páginas
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Olive Schreiner is one of those women writersÐÐsuch as Germaine de Stael, George Sand, or Margaret FullerÐÐwho has been more famous for her life, circle of friends, and proto-feminism than for her writings. These women are all known about but relatively unkown when it comes to a close study of their fiction. With Olive Schreiner's Fiction, Gerald Monsman has rectified that situation.
Schreiner embodies an unusual combination of feminism and colonial Victorianism. The daughter of missionary parents in South Africa, she noticed early in her life that the Gospel's social message was not consistent with the behavior or cultural activity of the imperialists and empire builders by whom she was surrounded. She saw quite clearly the ways in which her society used religion to justify cultural domination and exploitation of both people and land and the ways in which appeals to a higher cause rationalized outright greed.
In her fiction, Schreiner tried to use the master's own tools against him. Her insight, as Monsman sees it, is first to rearticulate the master plot--the religious foundation of equality. Social morality, based on that foundation, necessarily demands that one heed more than the patriarchal story and that one listen to the voices and stories told by children, women, the land, and all its inhabitants. Monsman charts the topography of her imagery within her most significant imaginative works, and provides one of the first serious considerations of Schreiner's fiction.

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Gerald Monsman is Professor and former Head of the Department, where he specializes in nineteenth-century British and Anglo-African literature. Previously as Professor at Duke University he had been a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and, while part of the Duke program in creative writing, twice won the Blackwood Prize for Fiction from Blackwood's Magazine (Edinburgh). To date he has published eight volumes of literary criticism, fifteen scholarly editions, one historical monograph, one critical biography, seven book chapters, and more than thirty critical articles, along with reference criticism, poetry and fiction, and reviews. His career has been heavily invested in recovering "lost" or neglected writers of major importance with book-length critical studies: Walter Pater, Charles Lamb, Olive Schreiner, H. Rider Haggard, Bertram Mitford, Ernest Glanville, and John Trevena (regarded as one of the finest novelists of his time who today has fallen into total neglect). For critical study, it often proved necessary to reedit these neglected writings for scholarly access, such as Glanville's border tales of unrest or Trevena's Sleeping Waters ([1913] Valancourt, 2013) on the 100th anniversary of its first publication. Currently, based on new manuscripts, Monsman is reediting the last great novel of the English Decadence, Walter Pater's Gaston de Latour, in connection with a complete scholarly edition of Pater's works for Oxford University Press.

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