Tuesday, November 10, 2009

the man who loved children

Note. This post is a part of a series of Christina Stead link-posts. You can find the primary post here. It will connect you to the rest. I've added them to the bottom of this post too, so scroll down if you prefer.


Commentary on The Man Who Loved Children


At Clarissa's Blog.

No amount of numbers, figures and historical data could give a fuller understanding of the tragedy of female existence before reliable birth control.

At the Globe and Mail.

If Sam embodies selfish love, Henny embodies selfish hatred. She comes across as an unentertaining drama queen. She feels entitled to wealth. How awful must that be to live with?

At the Guardian.

Stead was able to do what Dickens did routinely, which was to have two or more of these universes abut and challenge one another. But Stead the sociologist was colder and more honest than Dickens, whose sentimental attachment to a Victorian ideal of family comity was sometimes shaken but never destroyed.

At Cindy Stubbs' blog, Confessions.

… this book has the texture of real life, all the misery of family life that I knew so well. All the same there is great genius in the eldest girl Louie and a great sort of happiness with imagination that I have myself.

At the Tingle Alley blog, a quote from a 1965 article by Randall Jarrell.

A sort of despairing contempt filled the critic’s eyes, and he cried: “But — but — but that’s absurd! That [ie, Man] isn’t a good novel, it couldn’t be! I haven’t read it, but I know the sort of author she is, and it couldn’t be. Why, she’s a Stalinist!”

At anonymous Nige's blog Nigeness, a post that prompted a happy response from Patrick Kurp at Anecdotal Evidence.

… family life doesn't come much more immoderate and insensate than it is in The Man Who Loved Children. I think this is a very great book - I'm amazed it isn't better known - but it is one of the most emotionally lacerating, at times very nearly unbearable, reading experiences I have had.

An article by Jonathan Franzen, who has said that Man is one of his favourite novels.

The novel isn't small enough or one-sided enough to be useful to theorists. The Pollits are too human to fit into a syllabus.

An article by the Australian writer Gregory Day begins with some thoughts about the book.

Did the constraint of having to place her own formative childhood memories into a North American dialect unleash an unexpected alchemy, which served to heighten the universal humanity of the novel? I suspect so. As the experiments in literary form of the OuLiPo movement in Europe has proven time and again, there is often nothing as helpful to an imaginative writer as a good limitation.

A discussion at the Slate Book Club.

So much of what the characters say and do to each other is boundaried by money or its lack (when "butter-hearted Bonnie," Sam's indentured sister, singes Henny's finest blouse, we get a very specific sense of how completely futile is her promise to replace it; hence we get to understand exactly how Henny's fury is deepened by the promise itself) …

An overview of Man, excerpted, by Google books, from Australian classics: 50 great writers and their celebrated works, written by Jane Gleeson-White.

Its three central characters - husband, wife and child - are locked within each other's orbit until the child breaks them free.

A 1965 review at Time magazine.

The tragedy of Sam and Henny is no grand Sophoclean descent into doom. They live like a couple of roaches battling over garbage, and fate simply sluices them down the drain.

A number of reviews by different people at goodreads.com.

Read in May, 2007

The man who loves children really, in fact, doesn't love his children at all except for how they make him look to the outside and feel proud of his "accomplishments". He loves himself and sees his children as possessions that only he is qualified to educate and train, even though he is never around to do it. He was an absolute manic ass.


General Commentary on Christina Stead.

Commentary on Letty Fox: Her Luck.

Commentary on miscellaneous other books published by Stead.


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