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Gossipy Impertinence

June 15, 1986

Is Carolyn See trying to become the Louella Parsons of the literary world? In her review of Christina Stead's posthumously published stories, (View, May 19) she plumbs new depths of ignorant, gossipy impertinence:

"What a crank Christina must have been! Ms. Hard-to-Get-Along-With; Ms. Snip! . . . She refused to promote herself or her books . . . What a game-player!"

What tasteless drivel! Malicious, unfounded speculation on the writer's personality (I was acquainted with her) tells nothing about "what kind of writer" she was, or the book under review.

Stead was a far more profound, serious and gifted creator of fiction than See can appreciate. People with literary taste and knowledge--Randall Jarrell, Jean Stafford, Robert Lowell--regard Stead's "The Man Who Loved Children" as one of the great 20th-Century novels about family life. Her "House of All Nations" is considered by some to be the best fiction since Balzac about the financial world; "For Love Alone," "Dark Places of the Heart," "Letty Fox" are all powerful, superlatively written and moving depictions of contemporary people and problems.

See apparently knows nothing of these works or of Stead's stature as one of the century's important novelists. Instead of trying to find out and inform your readers, she engages in abysmal "psychologizing" of an artist who, like any other, should be judged only by her work.

For readers who want to learn more about her, I recommend the book "Christina Stead" by Joan Lidoff, a University of Texas scholar.


Mar Vista

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