• Publication Date: October 31, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554815647 / 1554815649
  • 175 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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  • Publication Date: October 31, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554815647 / 1554815649
  • 175 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Dreams is a work that defies conventional categorization; however, one might best capture its unique formal structure by construing it as a series of prose poems or narrative paintings, a starkly modern text inflected by the far older tradition of the medieval dream vision poem. Arthur Symons praised Dreams by saying, “The words seem to chant themselves to a music which we do not hear.” Though a work of prophecy, it proceeds with a light touch. The sequence of eleven dreams, loosely interlinked, leaves us to wrestle with our doubts; it takes up thorny questions that challenge a culture right where it may tend to be its proudest. The landscape of the work shifts as it moves among the African savannah, congested late-industrial London, and the olive tree-studded hillsides of Italy. The intersectionality of Schreiner’s writing—its concern with gender, sexual orientation, class, nation, and race—makes her a particularly salient voice for today’s students.

The appendices to this edition provide an accessible representation of Schreiner’s key contexts, South African and British as well as American. The introduction provides a biographical overview of a writer wrestling with questions of social justice pertinent to her own era, yet relevant to our contemporary moment.

Appendix A: South Africa

  • 1. From the Charter of the British South Africa Company (1889)
  • 2. From Cecil Rhodes, “What We Were Fighting” (November 13, 1900)
  • 3. From Sol Plaatje, Native Life in South Africa (1916)
  • 4. Women’s Enfranchisement Leaflet with Schreiner’s notes (1908)
  • 5. Letters to Julia Solly (1908), Will Schreiner (June 12, 1898), and Edward Carpenter (April 3, 1911)

Appendix B: London

  • 1. From Edward Carpenter, My Days and Dreams (1916)
  • 2. From Constance Lytton, Prisons and Prisoners (1914)
  • 3. From W.T. Stead, “The Novel of the Modern Woman” (March 1896)
  • 4. Letters to Havelock Ellis (April 24, 1887), Maria Sharpe (November 24, 1887), and Karl Pearson (November 11, 1890)

Appendix C: Literary and Intellectual Influences

  • 1. From John Bunyan, “The Author’s Apology for his Book” and “In the Similitude of a Dream,” Pilgrim’s Progress (1678)
  • 2. “The Parable of the Wedding Banquet,” Luke 14:7-24
  • 3. From Herbert Spencer, First Principles (1860)
  • 4. From Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lecture on the Times (1841)
  • 5. From W.E.B. Du Bois, On the Souls of Black Folk (1903)
  • 6. Selected poems from contemporary black South African poets: I.W.W. Citashe, “Your Cattle are Gone” (written during the 19th century, published 1961); Sol Plaatje, “Sweet Mhudi and I” (1920); Mrs. A.C. Dube, “Africa: My Native Land” (1913); and A.K. Soga, “Daughters of Africa” (1919)
  • 7. From Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)
  • 8. Edward Carpenter, “The Curse of Property” from Towards Democracy (1905)
  • 9. Anna Kingsford, “The Armed Goddess” from Dreams and Dream Stories (1883)
  • 10. Letters to Edward Carpenter (October 26, 1905) and Margaret Harkness (between January and February 1891)

Appendix D: The Reception and Importance of Dreams

  • 1. Letter to T. Fisher Unwin (1892)
  • 2. Arthur Symons, “Review of Dreams,” The Athenaeum (1891)
  • 3. Amy Wellington, Introduction to Dreams (1915)
  • 4. Advertisement for Dreams, from Trooper Peter Halket (1897)

Appendix E: Schreiner’s Corpus

  • 1. From The Story of an African Farm (1883)
  • 2. From Woman and Labour (1911)
  • 3. From From Man to Man (1926)
  • 4. From “The Buddhist Priest’s Wife” (1891)
  • 5. From “The Dawn of Civilisation” (1921)
  • 6. From “Diamond Fields” (1872)
  • 7. From “The Lingua Franca of the World” (1896)

Barbara Black is Professor of English at Skidmore College and Graduate Faculty at The School of Letters, University of the South. Carly Nations is an M.A. graduate at the University of the South. Anna Spydell is an M.A. candidate at the University of the South.