""Christina Stead was a hugely unapproachable person who detested self-revelation and, late in life, destroyed many of her private papers. Would-be biographers were held at arm's length, and any so foolhardy as to persevere found doors slammed and projects aborted. Only Hazel Rowley managed to stay the course, persuading Stead's estate as well as her friends, colleagues, and family members to cooperate, thereby gaining access to private papers and privileged memories. The result is an intellectually rigorous yet dramatically riveting book that brings alive this odd and furious woman who was often her own worst enemy but who stands with very few as one of the truly important literary figures of her age."" ""Born in Australia in 1902, Christina Stead sailed for England at the age of twenty-six, not to return home until she was seventy-two. An intensely private person and an incredibly cantankerous one, Stead lived a life that was stormy, eccentric, and brave. She was highly political and maddeningly contentious - few would call her easy in life or in fiction.
In this eloquent, richly detailed biography, Christina Stead (1902-1983) emerges as a writer whose bristling, difficult fiction was fueled by a troubled life and touchwood temperament (``Every human being is a sort of monster, if you get to know them.''). After leaving her native Australia and a divisive relationship with her brilliant father at age 26-reflected in her semiautobiographical novel The Man Who Loved Children, which she called ``a Strindberg Family Robinson''-Stead led a peripatetic and sometimes impoverished life in Europe and America. Australia was slow to recognize her talent, and financial and critical support for her work eluded her elsewhere as well until late in life. Rowley, an Australian professor, points out that Stead's susceptibility to depression was assuaged by the devotion of her lover, Marxist historian and novelist William Blech. His forbearance with a hugely talented, intemperate and imperious figure is paralleled by Rowley's incisive, sympathetic prose. Photos. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Open Road Integrated Media, LLC
October 22, 2012
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