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y separately published work icon I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 1986... 1986 I'm Dying Laughing : The Humourist
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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

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 .
      image of person or book cover 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

Other Formats

  • Also sound recording.

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
y separately published work icon Christina Stead and the Matter of America Fiona Morrison , Sydney : Sydney University Press , 2019 17267523 2019 multi chapter work criticism

'Although Christina Stead is best known for the mid-century masterpiece set in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, The Man Who Loved Children, it was not her only work about the America. Five of Christina Stead’s mid-career novels deal with the United States, capturing and critiquing American life with characteristic sharpness and originality.

'In this examination of Stead’s American work, Fiona Morrison explores Stead’s profound engagement with American politics and culture and their influence on her “restlessly experimental” style. Through the turbulent political and artistic debates of the 1930s, the Second World War, and the emergence of McCarthyism, the “matter” of America provoked Stead to continue to create new ways of writing about politics, gender and modernity.

'This is the first critical study to focus on Stead’s time in America and its influence on her writing. Morrison argues compellingly that Stead’s American novels “reveal the work of the greatest political woman writer of the mid twentieth century”, and that Stead’s account of American ideology and national identity remains extraordinarily prescient, even today.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

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)
[Review] I'm Dying Laughing 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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