The Enigmatic Christina Stead

The Enigmatic Christina Stead : A Provocative Re-reading

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Christina Stead (1902-1983) is arguably Australia's greatest female novelist. After graduating from Sydney Teachers' College in 1921, Christina taught for some years and left Australia in 1928 'to satisfy a wandering impulse'. She met her husband, William Blake, in London, and they moved to Paris in 1929. Her first novel, The Salzburg Tales, appeared in 1934, followed the same year by Seven Poor Men of Sydney. Her third book, The Beauties and The Furies, appeared in 1936 and House of All Nations in 1938. From 1937-1947 the Blakes lived in the USA. Three more novels appeared before her most famous work, The Man Who Loved Children - an acknowledged masterpiece of twentieth-century fiction - was published in 1940. Stead's concentrated emotional intensity, her interest in extraordinary passion, and her keen sense of fantasy and the grotesque have led to comparisons with D. H. Lawrence, Dostoevsky and Dickens. Immediately striking are her strong imaginative power and range, her verbal brilliance and her acute penetration of character. In this remarkable work, Teresa Petersen seeks to unravel an interesting, hitherto unexamined enigma presented by Christina Stead in her fiction. Overtly, Stead posits a heterosexual norm as the paradigm par excellence. Yet she portrays no happy heterosexual relationships or marriages, only miserable compromises. Covertly, on the other hand, lesbianism looms large in Stead's fiction, although usually shrouded in silence, imperceptibly surfacing and disappearing, sliding in and out of the narrative. Petersen argues that although Stead's texts are saturated with a heterosexual norm, it is a facade that masks both lesbianism and male homosexual more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 139.7 x 213.4 x 20.3mm | 362.88g
  • Melbourne University Press
  • Carlton, Australia
  • English
  • 22 cm
  • 0522849229
  • 9780522849226

About Teresa Petersen

Dr Teresa Petersen lectures in English, Linguistics and Media at Macquarie University, where she has tutored and lectured in a range of courses in English Literature and Cultural Studies since more

Review quote

Petersen offers some thought-provoking new readings of Stead's work that are likely to send us back to the novels themselves. "The Times Literary Supplement""show more