Female Quest in Christina
Stead's For Love Alone

By Mathilda Adie
December 2004
Dept. of English, Lund University
ISBN: 9197402362
221 pages, 6" x 8 "
$85.00 Paper Original

Christina Stead's works resist simplistic categorization, a circumstance which has attracted some critics and exasperated many others. The upsurge of post-colonial and feminist criticism in the 1980s revitalized critical interest in her books. Exuberant intertextuality and an abundance of contradictory literary and ideological discourses - previously often regarded as excesses flawing Stead's literary style - now became appreciated qualities.

The aim of this book is to illuminate a host of revealing, but frequently overlooked, details that form patterns essential for a deeper understanding and enjoyment of Stead's novels. Intertextuality and the workings of conflicting discourses play prominent parts in the critical analyses of quests undertaken by Stead's female characters, particularly that of Teresa Hawkins whose quest provides For Love Alone with its romance structure.

A combination of Northrop Frye's myth criticism with feminist and post-colonial criticism opens the way for an in-depth analysis of Teresa as a modern quest hero, informed by literature but at odds with its conventional gender roles. The intertextual perspective sheds light on her progress, as well as on important parts of the literary context in which For Love Alone is embedded. The concluding survey of Stead's other novels traces the development of Stead's treatment of female quest within the entire body of her fiction.

Lund Studies in English, No. 107

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