Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 9, 2016

Why I write, Christina Stead

Bill at The Australian Legend has posted a Sensational Snippet from Cotter’s England, check it out!

theaustralianlegend

ANZLitLoversChristina Stead Week Nov 14-20 2016

1437769.jpg note the misplaced apostrophe!

Lisa at ANZ LitLovers has been posting the opening pages of Christina Stead novels. She suggested I put up an excerpt from Cotters’ England (1966), which I am planning to review. Here on pp 37-38 Stead’s protagonist Nellie, talking to her friend Caroline, gives a pretty good definition of the Social Realist novel:

“You’re all alike, you amateurs. Everything is grist to your mill. You don’t see the warm natural human material. You see a subject …  I understand the urge [to write]. But you’ll need more experience. That’s not enough, the seamy side. You can’t butcher them to make a holiday in print. Writing’s not just a case of self-expression or conscience clearing. The muckrakers did their work. Now we want something constructive. You see, sweetheart, just to photograph a refuse yard with its rats, that wouldn’t help…

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Responses

  1. By sheer coincidence i found a comment today on the Guardian’s list of top 100 novels over three centuries. the list dates from 2015. In explaining that this is a process of judgement and some key names might have been committed the columnist says: “One casualty of this process whom I deeply regret omitting is the Australian novelist Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children (1940), a profoundly moving study of family life so pitch perfect that it’s hard to believe her novel is not better known.”

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  2. His remiss absolutely. She is in a unique realm but requires attention and time. Something sadly lacking in a world that keeps us constantly distracted.

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    • Yes, everything has to be instant and easy these days, and for most people that includes reading (if they read, that is).

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  3. Thank you for that link. Now I’m wondering if Bill’s full review (when it gets published) will give me a new way of regarding Stead’s dislike of social realism’s constraints — the link between her opinions of a genre, and her descriptions of Nellie as vampire and leech.

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    • Bill is a most original thinker, and his reviews often give me pause for thought. I look forward to reading it too (and the book as well, of course!)

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