Christina Stead Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Christina Stead began her career with a volume of short stories, The Salzburg Tales (1934), and she contributed short stories to both literary and popular magazines. A posthumous collection, Ocean of Story: The Uncollected Short Stories of Christina Stead, was published in 1985. Her volume The Puzzleheaded Girl (1967) is a collection of four novellas. Her other literary output includes reviews and translations of several novels from the French. She also edited two anthologies of short stories, one with her husband, William Blake.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Christina Stead is considered to be in the first rank of Australian novelists; in 1974, she received Australia’s Patrick White Award. One of Stead’s novels, The Man Who Loved Children, received particular critical acclaim. Stead resisted critics’ attempts to represent her as a feminist writer, but she has received attention from feminist critics for her depictions of women constricted by their social roles.

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

What factors might have led most critics to fail to recognize the virtues of Christina Stead’s novel The Man Who Loved Children?

Naturalism in fiction before Stead’s time had little to do with naturalism as practiced by her father. How did Stead blend these two versions of naturalism?

How common a literary trait is Stead’s ability to develop commonplace characters who express themselves very—one might say unrealistically—well?

Explain how Stead unifies Seven Poor Men of Sydney by means of conflict.

Which characters in Stead’s novels evince authentic spirituality?


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Blake, Ann. Christina Stead’s Politics of Place. Nedlands: University of Western Australia Press, 1999. A political reading of Stead’s work, focusing on her social views.

Brydon, Diana. Christina Stead. London: Macmillan, 1987. While admitting that she has presented Stead’s work from an essentially feminist perspective, Brydon qualifies this stance by examining Stead’s fiction as about both sexes in varied social relationships. Provides a thorough examination of all the novels and includes a chapter entitled “Stead and Her Critics,” which throws interesting light on Stead’s critical reception. Also contains an extensive secondary bibliography.

Harris, Margaret, ed. The Magic Phrase: Critical Essays on Christina Stead. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2000. A collection of sixteen essays, some of which review Stead’s entire career and other of which concentrate on individual works.

Jarrell, Randall. “An Unread Book.” Introduction to The Man Who Loved Children, by Christina Stead. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965. This first serious and thorough critical examination of Stead’s work incorporates many of the themes on which subsequent critics enlarge.

Lidoff, Joan. Christina Stead. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1982. The earliest full...

(The entire section is 558 words.)