Review of Christina Stead: A Life of Letters by Chris Williams, Christina Stead by Diana Brydon, Christina Stead by Susan Sheridan, and Christina Stead's Heroine: The Changing Sense of Decorum by Kate Macomber Stern
'If she had been male and English, perhaps she would have been recognised sooner for the experimentalist she is. But if she had been male and English, she would probably never have made the experiments she makes, for all her books strike at the very roots of the idea of authority,' writes Diana Brydon. In attempting to consolidate Christina Stead's growing reputation, these four women writers review the reasons for its remaining so long unstable. There were of course, some early (and male) defenders, notably H.M. Green and R.G. Geering. Stead's prolonged absence from Australia, her wandering life and the vagaries of her publishing history, her political sympathies, her candour (Letty Fox, Her Luck was banned in Australia), the apparent excesses of her style and formlessness of her structures, are the other reasons considered. Out of print for several decades, twice put out of the running for literary awards in her native land, it was not until the reissue of The Man Who Loved Children in New York in 1965, prefaced by Randall Jarrell's enthusiastic introduction, that Stead began to attract critical attention commensurate with her stature.
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Cite as: Gribble, Jennifer. ‘Review of Christina Stead: A Life of Letters by Chris Williams, Christina Stead by Diana Brydon, Christina Stead by Susan Sheridan, and Christina Stead's Heroine: The Changing Sense of Decorum by Kate Macomber Stern.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 14, no. 3, 1990, doi: 10.20314/als.440149bfb8.