Coming in December: The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead (Good start. Now publish all of her work.)

by |September 20, 2010

“I am convinced that tens of thousands of people would bless the day that this book was published, if only they could be exposed to it.” JONATHAN FRANZEN

The Man Who Loved Children is Christina Stead’s masterpiece about family life. Sam and Henny Pollit are a warring husband and wife, he a fully blown narcissist and she spoiled and prone to fits of despair.

Their hatred, aggravated by too little money and too many children, lies at the centre of this chilling and brilliantly observed novel about relations between parents and children, husbands and wives.

The Man Who Loved Children is acknowledged as a contemporary classic of Australian and international literature.

Christina Stead was born in Sydney in 1902. She left Australia in 1928 and lived in London, Paris and the United States, writing and travelling with her husband, the novelist and political economist William Blake. In 1953 she and Blake settled in England. Widowed, she returned to Sydney in 1974 and died in 1983. Her first work, a collection of stories, The Salzburg Tales (Please publish this in a cheap edition), was published in 1934. It was followed by Seven Poor Men of Sydney (Please publish this in a cheap edition) (1934), The Beauties and Furies (1936)(Please publish this in a cheap edition), House of all Nations (1938)(Please publish this in a cheap edition), The Man Who Loved Children (1940)(Please publish this in a cheap edition), For Love Alone (1944)(Please publish this in a cheap edition), Letty Fox: Her Luck(Please publish this in a cheap edition) and many others.

Rereading ‘The Man Who Loved Children’

By JONATHAN FRANZEN

Published in The New York Times : June 3, 2010

Re-publish me! Re-publish me!

There are any number of reasons you shouldn’t read “The Man Who Loved Children” this summer. It’s a novel, for one thing; and haven’t we all secretly sort of come to an agreement, in the last year or two or three, that novels belonged to the age of newspapers and are going the way of newspapers, only faster? As an old English professor friend of mine likes to say, novels are a curious moral case, in that we feel guilty about not reading more of them but also guilty about doing something as frivolous as reading them; and wouldn’t we all be better off with one less thing in the world to feel guilty about?

To read “The Man Who Loved Children” would be an especially frivolous use of your time, since, even by novelistic standards, it’s about nothing of world-historical consequence. It’s about a family, and a very extreme and singular family at that, and the few parts of it that aren’t about this family are the least compelling parts. The novel is also rather long, sometimes repetitious and undeniably slow in the middle. It requires you, moreover, to learn to read the family’s private language, a language created and imposed by the eponymous father, and though the learning curve is nowhere near as steep as with Joyce or Faulkner, you’re still basically being asked to learn a language good for absolutely nothing but enjoying this one particular book. More…

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About the Contributor

John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at booktopia.com.au.

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