Christina Stead (17 July 1902 – 31 March 1983) was an Australian novelist and short-story writer acclaimed for her satirical wit and penetrating psychological characterizations. She was a committed Marxist, although she was never a member of the Communist Party. She spent much of her life outside Australia.
- 'How suburban!' cried Elvira. I was in Hampstead the other day: in front of one of the richest houses was a crazy pavement: they paid about £35 for it, doubtless. The man who would have done it best was in an asylum : he would have done it for nothing, happy to do it, and the more there is of it, the more dull and plain it looks, just an expanse of conventional craziness, looking as stupid as a neanderthal skull. That's the suburbs all over. That's what we are, you see: suburban, however wild we run. You know quite well, in yourself, don't you, two people like us can't go wild? Still, it's nice to pretend to, for a while.'
- The Beauties and Furies (1936)
- They went on playing quietly and waiting for Sam (who had gone back to the bedroom to seek Tommy) and for their turns to see Mother. Bonnie meanwhile, with a rueful expression, was leaning out the front window, and presently she could not help interrupting them, 'Why is my name Mrs Cabbage, why not Mrs Garlic or Mrs Horse Manure?' They did not hear her, so intent were they, visiting each other and inquiring after the health of their respective new babies. They did not hear her complaining to Louie that, instead of being Mrs Grand Piano or Mrs Stair Carpet, they called her Garbage, 'Greta Garbage, Toni Toilet,' said she laughing sadly, 'because they always see me out there with the garbage can and the wet mop; association in children's naïve innocent minds you see!'
'Oh no, it isn't that, protested Louie, Garbage is just a funny word: they associate you with singing and dancing and all those costumes you have in your trunk!'
'Do you think so?' Bonnie was tempted to believe. 'Mrs Strip Tease?'
- The Man Who Loved Children (1940)
- And Nelly turned to her and laughed a horrible laugh. She startled herself. She paused to light another cigarette, choking, blowing a cloud to hide her face; and when she could, continued in a gentle voice:
"You will do me a favour? Save me from disillusionment. Let the man coming back with you on Wednesday be a sensible man, who admits it all, defeat and hopelessness and the bitterness; but sanity." "But I don't know why I should," said Camilla, seriously.
"Won't you do what I ask, love? I know him, poor lad. I know what's best. I don't want him roaming the countryside, footloose and aimless and perhaps in some pub, on some roadside pick up some other harpy, instead of swallowing the bitter pill and facing the lonely road."
- Dark Places of the Heart (aka Cotters' England) (1966)
Quotations about Christina Stead
- (Joan Lidoff) “When you talk about fiction, you connect it very closely with your life experiences. What do you think of this statement about the connections between life and art that Christina Stead wrote for a 1968 Kenyon Review symposium on the short story: The "ocean of story" is made of "the million drops of water that are the looking-glass of all our lives. "What is unique about the short story is that we all can tell one, live one, even write one down; that story is steeped in our view and emotion....Give writers a chance... (and by writers, I mean everyone, not professionals, I mean anyone with a poignant urge to tell something that happened to him once) and there will be no end to stories and what stories carry that make them vital, genuine experience and a personal viewpoint. ... The essential for us is integrity and what is genuine....That is what is best about the short story: it is real life for everyone; and everyone can tell one." (Grace Paley) Well, I can't put it any better than that. That's exactly the way I begin a class, by telling everybody that they are storytellers; it is absolutely so.
- 1981 interview in Conversations with Grace Paley