Visions of a past : Olive Schreiner's 'colonial' problematics.
The 'colony' in Olive Schreiner‟s fiction and non-fiction is a place or space, I shall argue, that is both dynamic and complex. The comings and goings, the stories, of the 'characters' in the space are not reducible to the division of indigene/settler. This dissertation takes as its starting point a still prevalent view that Schreiner's literary achievement displays a typical 'colonial blindness' in matters of dispossession and resistance: that the colonial person has little connection to his/her material surrounds. In reaction to what I regard as a binary language of response, my focus is on what I refer to as 'margins' in Schreiner's writings: that is, to apparently tangential incidents which add complexity to the conception of colony and, by extension, to that of the colonial novel. My argument is that in her treatment of a colony of diverse, conflicting stories, which are told in both fictional and non-fictional forms, Schreiner challenged the dichotomous language of colonialism (in its sharp delineations between indigene and settler) and imbued her times (1880s-1920s) with visionary potential: a potential that continues to have import where the reductive categories of indigene and settler retain purchase even in postcolonial times.