Thank goodness Miegunyah – an imprint of Melbourne University Press – who have the very cool slogan, Books With Spine – have begun republishing the works of Christina Stead. We need to be reminded that Australia used to produce artists of genius. And it might just encourage our present crop of writers to either give up or to aim higher.
Your home library needs these three titles…
Christina Stead doesn’t tell you or show you what it is to love with all your being, no, she causes you to feel that love as intensely as poor Teresa feels it herself….
Set in Sydney and London in the 1930s, For Love Alone is the story of Teresa Hawkins, an intelligent, ardent young woman, and her search for the ideal passion of love. She attempts to engage the feelings of the unworthy Jonathan Crow, an intellectual young man and advocate of free love, and follows him to London after four years of severe self-sacrifice.
In London the mediocrity, corruption and egoistic shallowness of Crow gradually becomes obvious. With the help of James Quick, however, a devoted older man who takes Teresa to live with him, she is able to abandon her idealised vision.
After a brief interlude with Quick’s friend, Harry Girton, Teresa advances to a new, more detached appreciation of passion, and renews her commitment to Quick in full awareness of the compromises that love imposes.
Letty Fox – Her Luck is one of Christina Stead’s very best. It anticipates the modern woman – with all of her cares and worries, freedoms and their consequences – beating lesser novelists to her by fifty years. And is, in my opinion, still yet to be bettered. This book is not for the idle reader. This book requires the reader sit up and pay attention. But that said, it is not a difficult read – it’s truth makes it compelling reading…
From the Publisher:
Christina Stead’s brilliant satire of marriage, desire and the conventions that surround them.
One hot night last spring, after waiting fruitlessly for a call from my then lover, with whom I had quarrelled the same afternoon, and finding one of my black moods on me, I flung out of my lonely room on the ninth floor (unlucky number) in a hotel in lower Fifth Avenue and rushed into the streets of the Village, feeling bad.
Letty Fox – Her Luck, Christina Stead’s sixth novel, was first published in New York in 1946, and banned in Australia for its salaciousness. Set in wartime Manhattan and told in Letty’s own spiky and exuberant voice, the novel follows her successes and failures in the game of ‘being somebody’. Letty’s tireless pursuit of love and sex provides the setting for Stead’s brilliant satire of marriage, desire and the conventions that surround them..
The Man Who Loved Children is a book which cannot be appreciated by the ordinary heart or mind. If you don’t dig the book, you’re only playing at life, which is fine, but keep your opinion about the book to yourself, you will just look stupid otherwise.
“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 Childrenis 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.
About the Author:
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, was published in 1934. It was followed by Seven Poor Men of Sydney (1934), The Beauties and Furies (1936), House of All Nations (1938), The Man Who Loved Children (1940), For Love Alone (1944), Letty Fox: Her Luck and many others.