Monday, April 26, 2010

if you are

Since I'm on the subject of Christina Stead, let me throw in a line from Dearest Munx: the Letters of Christina Stead and William Blake, a book that comes to a close, as some novels do, with a silence, in which your imagination works, the silence being the ending.

From her final letter, dated 11 January 1968, to him as he lay in hospital.

Electricity bill came which I will pay if you are long delayed. 3/16/5 sterling.

After that, nothing.


  1. Oh dear. Did she know?

  2. She knew that he was sick, but both of her biographers agree that she was refusing to admit to herself just how sick he was. "It is possible that Stead could not bear to 'know' what she really knew," writes Rowley. That last letter veers between lines like, "Are you feeling a bit better?" and inconsequential things: "I am running out of envelopes."

  3. (He was in hospital because they were going to operate on his stomach cancer. After the operation he lingered weakly for several days, then died of a pulmonary embolism.)

  4. Ghastly. Imagine the guilt...

  5. "Haunted by her uncharitable behaviour towards Blake in his last years, she was suffering agonies of self-reproach [after he died]", believes Hazel Rowley, quoting letters and anecdotes to support her case. She was bewildered and miserable, she quarrelled with Blake's daughter by his first wife, and so on; and she never finished another book. So it threw her. She was with him when he died, though, so there's that.