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y I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist single work   novel  
I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist Issue Details: First known date: 1986... 1986
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This last great work by one of the century’s great writers is a large and original novel of betrayal and self-delusion, madness and consuming passions, that recreates to chilling effect the political turbulence of the American Left and the clamor and menace of the McCarthy Right. Not since her classic The Man Who Loved Children has Stead fashioned such willful and memorable characters as Emily Wilks and Stephen Howard. Emily is a woman of enormous but mercurial enthusiasms whose unflagging ebullience masks a darkness that will lead to disaster. Stephen—handsome, clever, spoiled—is a dangerous dreamer, an upper-class dropout playing at radical politics. Together, they mirror the times through which they live: the heady revolutionary fervor of the Depression, the short collaborative effort of wartime America, the fractiousness of the Cold War years.' (Publication summary)

Notes

  • Epigraph: 'The mockeries are not you. . ./The pert apparel, the deform'd attitude, drunkenness, greed, premature death, all these I part aside. . .//Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are picks its way.'/(Walt Whitman, To You. Birds of Passage, 1881)
  • Dedication: For William Blake, novelist and economist/My friend and husband, who helped me from the beginning
  • Other formats: Also sound recording.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Notes:
Unfinished work prepared for publication by Christina Stead's literary executor, R.G. Geering
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Virago ,
      1986 .
      Extent: viii, 447p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Edited and introduced by R. G. Geering.
      ISBN: 086068797X
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Henry Holt ,
      1987 .
      Extent: xi, 447p.p.
      Edition info: Reprinted from English first edition.
      Note/s:
      • Edited and introduced by R. G. Geering.
      ISBN: 0805004629
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Penguin Books ,
      1989 .
      Extent: viii, 447 p.p.
      Edition info: Reprinted from English first edition.
      Note/s:
      • Edited and introduced by R. G. Geering.
      ISBN: 0140110968
      Series: Penguin Twentieth Century Classics series - publisher
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Henry Holt ,
      1994 .
      6210652312273939302.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Edition info: Reprinted from English first edition.
      Note/s:
      • Introduction by Angela Carter.
      ISBN: 0805035893
      Series: Owl Books Henry Holt (publisher), series - publisher

Works about this Work

Accessible and Still in Good Stead Adrian Mitchell , single work review
— Review of I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist Christina Stead 1986 single work novel
Politics and Passion in Stead’s Late Novels Susan Sheridan , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , 8 December vol. 31 no. 6 2016;

'This essay examines some recent attempts to devise a new critical approach to Stead’s fiction which can encompass both the socialism she endorsed and the feminism she rejected, and asks how these approaches attempt to account for the affective as well as the intellectual impact of politics in Stead’s novels, in particular Cotters’ England and I’m Dying Laughing.'

Source: Abstract.

'Merely Unfriendly or Slightly Critical' : Christina Stead, The Left, and I’m Dying Laughing Nicholas Birns , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , 8 December vol. 31 no. 6 2016;

'The principal subject of the novel Stead spent much of her later years working on, published after her death, I'm Dying Laughing, is marked by the crisis of the Western left. As the son of one committed leftist and a nephew of another, and as someone who in his schooling and acculturation was highly exposed to the American left of the 1970s, I sensed the same crisis so seismically registered by Stead’s novel: of incongruity between aspirations and realities, of a distance between the proclaimed populism of the left and its practical elitism, and an odd disjuncture between the family worlds of these leftists and their political philosophies. In this paper, I consider a number of the ways in which Stead’s novel refracts and engages with the politics of mid-century American leftism and communism, its intellectual culture and ideology, issues that lie at the heart of Stead’s novel even as it deals with a woman, Emily Wilkes Howard, who, as a wife, as a mother and surrogate mother, as a writer, and as a political entity, ends up being unable to reconcile these contradictions.'

Source: Abstract.

'The Rest Flies Down the Wind' : Complexities of Late Style in the Work of Christina Stead Susan Carson , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 26 no. 2 2012; (p. 253-257)
The ‘American Dilemma’: Christina Stead’s Cold War Anatomy Fiona Morrison , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Reading Across the Pacific : Australia-United States Intellectual Histories 2010; (p. 241-253)

'After a year in New York in 1935-1936, Christina Stead commented that "the whole spirit of New York is opposed to the creative mind". Yet America and Americans became the matter of five of her subsequent novels. After a leftwing Australian background and a number of years in socialist milieus in London and Paris, Stead was an intriguing reader of 1940s America. In her late American work, I'm Dying Laughing (begun 1949, published 1986), Stead became that most precarious of things - a leftwing critic of the Left during the early Cold War. Desire for success and the accompanying fear of failure are thematised by Stead as "the American dilemma" - the contradictory relationship between collective action and individual survival at the heart of American national identity that she saw as no less forceful and tragic for many on the Left.' (Author's abstract)

Untitled Dorothy Hewett , 1987 single work review
— Appears in: Fremantle Arts Review , July vol. 2 no. 7 1987; (p. 14)

— Review of I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist Christina Stead 1986 single work novel
Wrestling Stead to the Ground Cath Kenneally , 1987 single work review
— Appears in: The Adelaide Review , May no. 38 1987; (p. 14)

— Review of I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist Christina Stead 1986 single work novel
Passion Play of a Stricken Nation Penelope Nelson , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian Magazine , 22-23 July 1989; (p. 8)

— Review of The Greatest Game 1988 anthology poetry short story prose ; I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist Christina Stead 1986 single work novel
The Power of Contradiction Nancy Lee Jones , 1988 single work review
— Appears in: Belles-Lettres (US) , July-August 1988; (p. 4)

— Review of Ocean of Story : The Uncollected Stories of Christina Stead Christina Stead 1985 selected work short story prose extract drama biography ; I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist Christina Stead 1986 single work novel
The Literary Spectrum Dorothy Hewett , 1987 single work review
— Appears in: Overland , September no. 108 1987; (p. 83-86)

— Review of Julia Paradise Rod Jones 1986 single work novel ; Testostero David Foster 1987 single work novel ; I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist Christina Stead 1986 single work novel
Crossing the Rubicon : Abjection and Revolution in Christina Stead's I'm Dying Laughing Brigid Rooney , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 2 no. 2003; (p. 29-39)
Christina Stead's Last Book : The Novel and the Best-Seller Susan Sheridan , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 2 no. 2003; (p. 41-52)
Discusses the literary aspirations and successes of Christina Stead's protagonists and their relationship to Stead's own ambitions for I'm Dying Laughing.
Christina Stead: The Integrity of the Writer Ann Blake , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 63 no. 3 2003; (p. 53-62)
'Scorched Earth', Washington and the Missing Manuscript of Christina Stead's I'm Dying Laughing Anne Pender , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , May vol. 21 no. 3 2004; (p. 235-250)
Pender's article reveals information from newly discovered Christina Stead manuscripts, and proposes a new reading, in the light of these materials, of Stead's posthumously published novel I'm Dying Laughing (ed. by Ron Geering).
Christina Stead's Politics Jennifer Gribble , 2004 single work criticism
— Appears in: Running Wild : Essays, Fictions and Memoirs Presented to Michael Wilding 2004; (p. 173-186)
Discusses Stead's attitude towards socialism and communism as it reveals itself in her posthumously published novel I'm Dying Laughing and in some of her personal statements. Gribble concludes that Stead's novel 'takes an authoritative place among the political reassessments of communism that are only now beginning to emerge' (184).
Last amended 9 Oct 2014 09:40:39
Subjects:
  • c
    United States of America (USA),
    c
    Americas,
  • c
    France,
    c
    Western Europe, Europe,
Settings:
  • 1930s
  • 1940s
  • 1950s
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