South African Literature
By Olive Schreiner
This novel, published in 1883 in London, made a considerable stir. Olive Schreiner, while in her twenties, was the first colonial writer to be acclaimed in British literary circles. More than one hundred years later, the book has lost none of its haunting, probing, heart-gripping power. Its central character, Lyndall, is a woman of great passion and intellectual intensity. In the course of an intriguing narrative, she expresses eloquently to her friends, but particularly to the meditative Waldo who shares many of her concerns, her thoughts about love, death, religion, injustice, human relationships in South Africa, and the position of women in society. (Schreiner was a strong early feminist.) Lyndall is independent and unconventional, and her story is surprising but eventually deeply sad. The novel is not without flaws, but it is richly varied: besides its challenging discussions, it contains lively characters and dialogue, vivid descriptions of South African activities and landscapes, and a good deal of humor and satire.
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