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The Man Who Loved Children by Christina…

The Man Who Loved Children (original 1940; edition 1970)

by Christina Stead, Randall Jarrell (Introduction)

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8451810,659 (3.9)116
Title:The Man Who Loved Children
Authors:Christina Stead
Other authors:Randall Jarrell (Introduction)
Info:Penguin, (1970), Paperback, 523 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Australian Author, Contemporary Fiction

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The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead (1940)

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» See also 116 mentions

English (17)  Dutch (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
I was a little hesitant when I saw that this book had a blurb from Jonathan Franzen on the cover. But, I told myself, don't let that influence your opinion of the book, because even people you don't like can like the same things you do. Maybe this book will be the tiny kernel of commonality you never wanted between you and Jonathan Franzen, who knows?

This book is not the tiny kernel of commonality between Jonathan Franzen and me. I loathed it. I loathed everyone in it. I loathed the way it was written. Every single thing about it, I hated.

The title character is the patriarch of the Pollit family, Sam. Or Sam the Bold, as he likes to refer to himself. He has a passel of children from his current marriage to Henny, who comes from a socially-prominent family and took a big step down to marry him. He also has one daughter from his first marriage (his first wife, his true love apparently, died). Sam likes to think of himself as fun-loving, principled, and right-thinking. He speaks to his children in incessant babytalk for some reason. Because he thinks it's cute? Because he is a child himself? Because the author really liked to write sentences that have to be sounded out to be understood, while at the same time making the reader feel like a fool for what he or she is now saying?

I cannot even think about this book any more. I understand where the author was going with it, but I got absolutely no pleasure, enjoyment, or enlightenment out of any of it. The lack of likable characters isn't a dealbreaker to me, but the ones in this book were so irritating to me that every page seemed like an eternity and even as the threads of the story came together, it all felt pointless.

Recommended for: masochists.

Quote: "But women have been brought up much like slaves, that is, to lie." ( )
  ursula | Sep 25, 2014 |
This book is Running With Scissors before Running With Scissors--a fictionalized account of a dysfunctional family. The mother is the character I watch, electrifying every scene she's in. Basically it's about a man who keeps a group of children around him in order to be the expert--what at first seems nice ends up being him stroking his own ego. ( )
  pewterbreath | Nov 3, 2013 |
I kept wishing that I could stop reading this book because it was so ugly, but I couldn't because it was too compelling. It almost physically hurt to read it because it is just bursting with too many sights, too many smells, too much STUFF all falling apart and disintegrating, things falling apart, children scrambling for any kind of understanding, and all this roly-poly, hurdy-gurdy dialog tripping along, ugh. And nothing has so much brought back for me the sensation of being a child in a family, but the truth is, I don't really want that sensation. You know how Tolstoy is bursting full of life in a happy way, and even what's sinister is endearing? The Man Who Loved Children reads a little bit like a refutation, where even what might be endearing is sinister, and the only possible respite comes from the ability to stare the ugly truth in the face and see it for what it is. It is bursting full of a kind of life, but it is a life more like decay. Well, in conclusion, I think this was a very good novel and showed a certain angle of truth extraordinarily well, but thank god there are other angles too. ( )
1 vote LizaHa | Mar 31, 2013 |
The Man Who Loved Children - it's like a TARDIS. From the outside, it looks like a reasonably big novel. But once you get inside, you realise it's huge. The scale of this novel is completely staggering. It's an entire world of its own. Like a fantasy novel, it has its own language, its own geography...if I - horror of horrors - woke up in the Pollit house tomorrow, I know I could find my way around. Stead makes everything so clear.

But let me make this perfectly clear - this is one bleak novel. It's 514 pages of claustrophobic agony. Not to be attempted by anyone who can't stand to read about characters they hate.

Want to hear me continue to rave about The Man Who Loved Children? Click through to my reading (and time travel) blog, Book to the Future, for my complete review:

http://booktothefuture.com.au/?p=1830 ( )
  BooktotheFuture | Mar 30, 2013 |
This was the truest book about the sickness and ingrown nature of the American family I have ever read. The rage and outrage that is growning up in a large brood, with parents acting out every right they think they have as an indvidual to warp and punish their children. I loved it! Thank you Jonathan Franzen for pointing out this story in your essay "Rereading the Man Who Loved Children" http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/books/review/Franzen-t.html?pagewanted=all - I would never have found this gem without you. The beaten up copy that arrived from the downtown branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, was the last hardback edition owned by the city, stained with 48 years of use and I dare anyone to say they did not relate to the secret languages of family and the sickness we perpetrate on our young. ( )
  deborahk | Oct 15, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
"Although “The Man Who Loved Children” is probably too difficult (difficult to stomach, difficult to allow into your heart) to gain a mass following, it’s certainly less difficult than other novels common to college syllabuses, and it’s the kind of book that, if it is for you, is really for you. I’m convinced that there are tens of thousands of people in this country who would bless the day the book was published, if only they could be exposed to it. I might never have found my way to it myself had my wife not discovered it in the public library in Somerville, Mass., in 1983, and pronounced it the truest book she’d ever read."

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christina Steadprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jarrell, RandallIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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All the June Saturday afternoon Sam Pollit's children were on the lookout for him as they skated round the dirt sidewalks and seamed old asphalt of R Street and Reservoir Road that bounded the deep-grassed acres of Tohoga House, their home.
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En je kan alles aan, alle wereldproblemen, terwijl er de hele tijd andere vrouwen zijn, jij hypocriet, jij smerige, bloedeloze hypocriet, te goed, andere vrouwen, wetenschapsvrouwen, jonge meiden en je eigen vrouw. Ik zal al je wetenschappelijke verenigingen schrijven, ik zal de Dienst voor Natuurbehoud schrijven, ik zal ze eens vertellen wat voor leven ik heb gehad. Sla me maar, sla me maar neer, ik kan er niet meer tegen. Je dreigt maar je doet niks, niks om me een kans te geven om weg te komen, niet voordat je iets tegen me hebt om mijn kinderen te stelen. Maar dat zal je niet, dat zal je niet! Ik vermoord ze allemaal, ik vermoord ze allemaal vanavond, ik giet die stinkende olie brandend je strot in en en vermoord mijn kinderen, je krijgt ze niet.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312280440, Paperback)

With an Introduction by Randall Jarrell. Sam and Henny Pollit have too many children, too little money, and too much loathing for each other. As Sam uses the children's adoration to feed his own voracious ego, Henny watches in bleak despair, knowing the bitter reality that lies just below his mad visions. A chilling novel of family life, the relations between parents and children, husbands and wives, The Man Who Loved Children, is acknowledged as a contemporary classic.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:21 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"Sam and Henny Pollit have too many children, too little money, and too much loathing for each other. As Sam uses the children's adoration to ffed his own voracious ego, Henny watches in bleak despair, knowing the bitter reality that lies just below his mad visions. A chilling novel of family life, the relations between parents and children, husbands and wives." -- Back cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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