- Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
- Format: Paperback | 272 pages
- Dimensions: 122mm x 196mm x 20mm | 200g
- Publication date: 1 November 2005
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0141185368
- ISBN 13: 9780141185361
- Sales rank: 14,741
A fascinating insight into the vibrant culture of Modernism, and the rich artistic world of Paris' Left Bank, Gertrude Stein's "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" includes an introduction by Thomas Fensch in "Penguin Modern Classics". For Gertrude Stein and her wife Alice B. Toklas, life in Paris was based upon the rue de Fleurus and the Saturday evenings and 'it was like a kaleidoscope slowly turning'. Picasso was there with 'his high whinnying Spanish giggle', as were Cezanne and Matisse, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. As Toklas put it - 'The geniuses came and talked to Gertrude Stein and the wives sat with me'. A light-hearted entertainment, this is in fact Gertrude Stein's own autobiography and a roll-call of all the extraordinary painters and writers she met between 1903 and 1932. Audacious, sardonic and characteristically self-confident, this is a definitive account by American in Paris. Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), a writer of experimental prose, is one of the original American Modernists. Born in Pennsylvania, she lived most of her life in Paris with her partner, Alice B. Toklas. Experimental books like "Three Lives" (1909), "Tender Buttons" (1914), and "The Making of Americans" (1925) established her reputation as an avant-garde stylist, and "The Autobiography of Alice B". Toklas made her an international celebrity. As an experimental writer she has been an inspiration to countless novelists and poets in our century, from Ernest Hemingway and Edith Sitwell in her own time to Jack Kerouac and Robert Duncan in ours. If you enjoyed "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas", you might like Virginia Woolf's "Orlando", also available in "Penguin Modern Classics". "Buttonholes the reader with its informality, its unhurried rhythms, deadpan humour and acerbic remarks". (Frances Spalding, "Sunday Times").
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"Largely to amuse herself, [ Gertrude Stein ] wrote The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in 1932...using as a sounding board her companion Miss Toklas, who had been with her for twenty-five years. It has been said that the writing takes on very much Miss Toklas' conversational style, and while this is true the style is still a variant of Miss Stein's conversation style. ...She usually insisted that writing is an entirely different thing from talking, and it is part of the miracle of this little scheme of objectification that she could by way of imitating Miss Toklas put in writing something of her own beautiful conversation. So that, aside from making a real present of her past, she created a figure of herself, established an identity a twin, a Doppelganger.... The book is full of the most lucid and shapely anecdotes, told in a purer and more closely fitting prose... than even Gide or Hemingway have ever commanded ...." -- Donald Sutherland ..." The record of nearly thirty years of life in a fantastically changing Paris and else where -- a life passed in the most stimulating and important society." -- Louis Bromfield ..." One of the richest, wittiest, and most irreverent [biographies] ever written." -- William Troy "From the Trade Paperback edition.
A book that is going to cause some annoyance and much discussion. Is Alice B. Toklas a real person? Yes, she is, very much so, secretary and companion and close friend of Certrude Stein for many years. Why the title? Because Alice Toklas was always threatening to write her autobiography, which, Gertrude Stein knew, would in essence be her biography, based on a close intimacy. When the writing was postponed repeatedly, Gertrude Stein announced that she would do it herself. This is the result. This the title. Explain it to your customers if you can. The text is really Gertrude Stein's autobiography, though it gives a delightful background of Alice Toklas, a background of sympathy, cooperation, friendship, and life made up of little things such as cooking and sewing, and making the wheels go round. As a biography of Gertrude it is fascinating. One gots a vivid swift picture of a childhood in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and in Europe; of college days at Radcliffe and at Johns Hopkins studying medicine. After 1907 she lived with her brother in Paris and one meets Piccasso, Matisse, Juan Cris - the moderns who were trying to make the world see what they saw. And there were many from the writing world, too, Sherwood Anderson, Van Vechten and others. She was always writing, always worried because the world did not understand her. So lucid and sympathetic a study is this, that one feels one could go back to her writings and understand them now. There is no affectation here, none of the stream of consciousness method. Intensely interesting, and should have more than a moderate sale. (Kirkus Reviews)
Back cover copy
Largely to amuse herself, Gertrude Stein wrote this book in 1932..using as a sounding board her companion Miss Toklas, who had been with her for twenty-five years. The book is full of the most lucid and shapely anecdotes, told in a purer and more closely fitting prose...than even Gide or Hemingway have ever commanded.
Stein's most famous work; one of the richest and most irreverent biographies ever written. "From the Trade Paperback edition.