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December 14 , 2010

The Story Of An African Farm

Or how a broken nose, a shaman, and a little light dusting may point the way to enlightenment


Set in the 1870s on a Karoo farm, The Story of an African Farm tells the tale of Tant Sannie, Em and Lyndall. When the sinister and eccentric Bonaparte Blenkins arrives, their peaceful farm life is disrupted through his various deceptions. His motives are all too obvious to Em and Lyndall and they collude to expose him as a fraud. Published as No. 197 in March 1939, The Story of an African Farm has been in print as a paperback with Penguin Books ever since. This revised, complete edition - issued to commemorate the novel's 125th anniversary - includes Olive Schreiner's preface to the second printing, with her husband's 1924 introduction as the present afterword. Among the numerous plaudits bestowed on this pioneer novel is that of Es'kia Mphahlele in 1960, when he found the issues Schreiner raised in it 'too generous to fit into the South African pattern of values', while Doris Lessing in her 1968 afterword considered it to be 'one of those few rare books, on a frontier of the human mind'. As Dan Jacobson remarked in his 1971 introduction: 'Nothing can take from her the honour of being the first to make usable the country and the people within it as a subject for fiction.'
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