Friday, January 1, 2010

In History: Olive Schreiner and her words

This is the sixth post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Olive Schreiner, who was born in South Africa and lived from 1855-1920, might best be known as an author (she wrote "The Story of an African Farm," among other books), but she was also a political activist, pacifist, agnostic and something of a feminist as well. You can read about her here, but I'd like to point out a few great quotes from her (the first might be my favorite):

"Men are like the earth and we are the moon; we turn always one side to them, and they think there is no other, because they don't see it / but there is."

"A little weeping, a little wheedling, a little self-degradation, a little careful use of our advantages, and then some man will say 'Come, be my wife!' With good looks and youth marriage is easy to attain. There are men enough; but a woman who has sold herself, even for a ring and a new name, need hold her skirt aside for no creature in the street. They both earn their bread in one way. Marriage for love is the most beautiful external symbol of the union of souls; marriage without it is the least clean traffic that defiles the world."

"I have no conscience, none, but I would not like to bring a soul into this world. When it sinned and when it suffered something like a dead hand would fall on me, -- 'You did it, you, for your own pleasure you created this thing! See your work!' If it lived to be eighty it would always hang like a millstone round my neck, have the right to demand good from me, and curse me for its sorrow. A parent is only like to God: if his work turns out bad so much the worse for him; he dare not wash his hands of it. Time and years can never bring the day when you can say to your child, 'Soul, what have I to do with you?'"

"Power! Did you ever hear of men being asked whether other souls should have power or not? It is born in them. You may dam up the fountain of water, and make it a stagnant marsh, or you may let it run free and do its work; but you cannot say whether it shall be there; it is there. And it will act, if not openly for good, then covertly for evil; but it will act."

"We were equals once when we lay new-born babes on our nurse's knees. We will be equal again when they tie up our jaws for the last sleep."

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