'Widely regarded as the two most important Australian writers of the twentieth century, certainly of its middle decades, the literary careers of Christina Stead and Patrick White were fundamentally shaped by the authors' American experience and more particularly by their contacts with New York publishing. Both were networked into the New York book world in ways that are rare among our examples although they recall W.W. Norton's support for Henry Handel Richardson; and, like Richardson, both for a time became part of contemporary American book talk on the state of the modern novel. Major figures in the New York book world including Clifton Fadiman, Max Schuster and Stanley Burnshaw were closely engaged in Stead's career, while Ben W. Huebsch of the Viking Press and then his successor Marshall Best were White's primary contacts in the publishing world, and much more than that in Huebsch's case. Some key reviews in the American papers, such as those by James Stern in the New York Times, were critical for White's sense that the "right readers" could be found for his challenging novels. For both authors, America was more than just a supplementary market. Stead, on the ground in New York and absorbed in its cultural politics and intellectual networks, came close to being read as an "American writer". White, by contrast, maintained his New York connections largely from a distance. Triangulated between English, American and Australian literary cultures, their writing had multiple homes but also a sense of homelessness, of not belonging easily to any single place or time. If this gave their fiction an unusual power, it also made it difficult for them to be assimilated into an evolving American or international modern tradition. In Pascale Casanova's words, "to be decreed 'modern' is one of the most difficult forms of recognition for writers outside the centre".' (Introduction)
Epigraph: "I am at home in good old, bad old NY.' —Christina Stead 1979'