A lost classic finally given recognition

The Salzburg Tales
by Christina Stead

Paperback, Published January 1st 2016 by Miegunyah Press (first published 1934)

Christina Stead is finally and thankfully going through a revival as new readers are introduced to her works. Australia seems to have a habit of not celebrating its female authors and it is wonderful to see this renewed focus.

Stead in my humble opinion is one of Australia’s greatest authors and having read this novel just seals the deal for me.
A group of strangers have a chance meeting at the Salzburg Festival and over seven days they tell stories. The tales involve tragedy, humour, fantasy and myth.  The characters are beautifully realised It is an extraordinary collection of stories and I was moved, engaged and transported into these diverse lives.
The way that Stead captures the elements of a character in her personages’ introduction is just divine ‘her arms were thin, muscular and rough skinned as a shark’s fin with too much exercise.’ There are so many gems like this as they make reading such a joy.

I know I am going on with the platitudes but seriously when you place this book in context, the time it was written (1934) by an Australian female author who was even denied a literary prize  based on the grounds that she had been so long overseas that she had ceased to be an Australian. You begin to realise just how much that is a novel of great ambition and I am not sure that any other writer that Stead could have pulled it off. It is an extraordinary piece of work.


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