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Outspoken dreams: Selfhood, sex and spirituality in the writings of Olive Schreiner

Martin, Claire (1986) Outspoken dreams: Selfhood, sex and spirituality in the writings of Olive Schreiner. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This study of the life and work of Olive Schreiner explores the tensions inherent in her political and artistic vision. It assesses the importance both of her continual movement towards a unifying spirituality and of her relentless, often fragmentary, self-exploration. Using her three novels, the allegories, her non-fictional work and her extensive personal correspondence, I examine Schreiner's sense of identity and gender and their relationship to her feminism, and her emphasis on a re-evaluation of sexual relationships within the major themes of her writing. Throughout, I follow closely the varied and innovative directions her work takes, and critically appraise her use of dream, allegory and propaganda. With a thematic exploration of her central concerns, both personal and political, I aim to establish links between the conflict Schreiner experienced as a woman artist and current developments in feminist writing and theory, at the same time evaluating Schreiner's radical' contribution to Victorian literature and the nineteenth-century women's movement. My first chapter charts the expression of her own femaleness through the development of the personalities and lives of her fictional heroines. The second and third chapters investigate her ambivalence about gender as revealed in her relationships and her work, and the effect on her creativity of the clash between prevalent Victorian sexual stereotyping and Schreiner's own constantly changing self-image. Chapter Four deals with the growth of her spiritual awareness and its centrality to her art and politics. I finish with an examination of her attitudes towards woman's place in society, and her attempt to reconcile creative self-expression with the public voice of the committed feminist and socialist.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Letters
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:1986
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Feb 2013 13:50

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