Christina Stead: The Beauties and Furies

(959 words)
  • Anna Snaith
  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume Australian Writing and Culture.

The Beauties and Furies is central to Christina Stead's position as a significant writer of the Modernist period. Set in Paris in 1934, it depicts a haunting metropolis, peopled, as one character remarks, with “many beauties – and furies.” Underpinned by a critique of commodity capitalism, the socialist characters appear ultimately self-serving. Stead weaves her Marxism and her feminism together, so that the economic content has everything to do with the novel's discussion of female beauty and romantic idealism.

The novel centres around Elvira Western, who, at the opening of the text, has left her doctor husband, Paul, in Mecklenburgh Square, Bloomsbury and is on the train to Paris to join her lover, Oliver F…

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Snaith, Anna. "The Beauties and Furies". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 July 2001
[, accessed 06 July 2015.]