Christina Stead: A Biography | Book, Essay
- Book description:
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. And yet, in her lifetime, her work was likened to that of Balzac, Joyce, Ibsen, and Tolstoy. But, in fact, it was uniquely her own.
- Book Authors:
- Hazel Rowley was a British-born Australian writer and biographer.Born in London, Rowley emigrated with her parents to Adelaide at the age of eight. She studied at the University of Adelaide, graduating with Honours in French and German. Later she acquired a PhD in French. She taught literary surveies at Deakin University in Melbourne, before traveling to the United States.Rowley 's first published life, of Australian novelist Christina Stead, was critically acclaimed and won the National Book Council 's Banjo Award for non-fiction in 1994. Her following biographical work was about the African American author Richard Wright. Her best-known book, Tête-à-tête ( 2005 ) , covers the lives of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre ( de Beauvoir had been the topic of Rowley 's PhD thesis ) . Her last published book is Franklin & Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage, about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt ( 2011 ) .Rowley suffered a intellectual bleeding in New York in February 2011 and died there on 1 March.
Christina Stead: A Biography Essay
- This is a hard reappraisal to compose. Hazel Rowley is brilliant as ever. But her character! Christina Stead is a hard 1. When I read Rowley 's Tete-a-tete, I came off with a strong disfavor of de Beauvoir and Sartre whom I had revered back in the 70 's. EVERYONE revered them ; and some of their art surely still stands. But they were self-involved users. Stead ne'er acquired that sort of position in her life-time, but when I came upon her book The Man Who Loved Children, hers was an original and startling voice. I ne'er liked any of her other books as much, with the exclusion of Miss Herbert. TMWLC ( as she called it ) accounts for many of Christina 's character defects. It’s taken me a long clip to read Hazel Rowley’s life of Christina Stead – and I made heavy conditions of it towards the terminal. It was merely so cheerless reading about the last old ages of this great writer… While I enjoyed the book greatly -- Stead 's life and work are fantastic to read about -- I could non stand the tampering of the writer. Having said that I have to acknowledge I 'm non a regular life reader. Possibly a life author merely has to enforce her point of position onto the topic, to direct the topic 's life in any manner she likes. With Hazel Rowley, her universe positions and doctrine are merely uninteresting. For Rowley everything can be explained by the manifest/latent double star: either Stead was quashing some idea, or covering some pent-up emotion. This sort of pseudo-Freudian ( and bad ) reading of one 's life to me is pure irritation. In Rowley 's composing it is clear that she did non appreciate some of Stead 's behaviors ( from imbibing, being vain, to handling her female friends and relatives nastily ) , and I found her grade of being opinionated unsavory. But once more, as a biographer you likely have to hold a base ; you either have to sing the congratulationss of the topic, or acutely indicate out how atrocious the individual is. Possibly I merely prefer the old sort. Another outstanding life by Hazel Rowley. She brings her topics to life and sets out the political and societal context of this singular adult female 's life and authorship. I am now tracking down all the Stead I have n't read. First up - Seven hapless work forces of Sydney. This is a really good written and prosecuting life of a superb but hard Australian author who is non every bit good known as she should be. If reading this book seemed similar difficult work at times, it was merely because there was a batch of defeat and sadness in Stead 's life, peculiarly in her ulterior old ages. However, it 's a absorbing narrative, partially because of the glances it povides into the history of the times and topographic points in which Stead lived. She became a Communist at a immature age and maintained her beliefs throughout the Cold War, apparently unfazed by disclosures about the worlds of life under Stalin. The narrative of Stead 's concluding old ages in Australia, after she had lived abroad for over 40 old ages, is non a happy one, but at least she was, in the terminal, recognised as a great author.
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