'House of All Nations is Christina Stead's 1938 gripping portrayal of financial world success. Set in an exclusive European bank in the heady days of the early thirties, Stead weaves a remarkable tale of greedy, devious and shady characters, all brought together by their love of money. The director of the bank, Jules Bertillon, leads these gamblers, crooks and prospectors on a treacherous journey navigating political and natural disasters, and using both to his advantage.
'House of All Nations has never been more relevant, as Stead's remarkable work speaks loudly about the modern markets. ' (Publication summary)
'Stead composed House of All Nations (1938) at a time of unprecedented economic and political crisis in the West, and the urgency of this situation is reflected in the speed and scope of this composition, and in the major target of her satire: finance capitalism. Her depiction of this Marxist concept, as well as specific allusions to the master's writings, are examined in detail to demonstrate her ideological position and putative aims.' (Publication abstract)
Rooney examines how 'Stead's fiction intricately negotiates her encounters with these [the banking and Popular Front politics worlds] divergent "phallocracies" through the multivalent and liminal figure of the secretary.' Rooney notes that while 'Stead's narrative use of the male political secretary safeguards her identity as a socially accepatable women' it also provides 'a context for discerning the nature of her contribution to 1930s debates about capitalism, communism and revolution.'