“This crazy, gorgeous family novel” written at the end of the Great Depression “is one of the great literary achievements of the twentieth century” (Jonathan Franzen, The New York Times).
First published in 1940, The Man Who Loved Children was rediscovered in 1965 thanks to the poet Randall Jarrell’s eloquent introduction (included in this ebook edition), which compares Christina Stead to Leo Tolstoy. Today, it stands as a masterpiece of dysfunctional family life.
In a country crippled by the Great Depression, Sam and Henny Pollit have too much—too much contempt for one another, too many children, too much strain under endless obligation. Flush with ego and chilling charisma, Sam torments and manipulates his children in an esoteric world of his own imagining. Henny looks on desperately, all too aware of the madness at the root of her husband’s behavior. And Louie, the damaged, precocious adolescent girl at the center of their clashes, is the “ugly duckling” whose struggle will transfix contemporary readers.
Named one of the best novels of the twentieth century by Newsweek, Stead’s semiautobiographical work reads like a Depression-era The Glass Castle. In the New York Times, Jonathan Franzen wrote of this classic, “I carry it in my head the way I carry childhood memories; the scenes are of such precise horror and comedy that I feel I didn’t read the book so much as live it.”
About the author
Christina Stead (1902–1983) was an Australian writer regarded as one of the twentieth century’s master novelists. Stead spent most of her writing life in Europe and the United States, and her varied residences acted as the settings for a number of her novels. She is best known for The Man Who Loved Children (1940), which was praised by author Jonathan Franzen as a “crazy, gorgeous family novel” and “one of the great literary achievements of the twentieth century.” Stead died in her native Australia in 1983.
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