Gertrude Stein in Pieces

Gertrude Stein in Pieces

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Gertrude Stein's entire body of work is critized and related to the events of her life in a perceptive studyshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 428 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 33.02mm | 748.42g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0195012801
  • 9780195012804

Review Text

Everyone agrees that Gertrude Stein was one of the most interesting literary figures of our time, but there's no consensus whatever on the writings she left behind. Works of genius, say her supporters; "a genial rogue," says Ezra Pound. She studied anatomy at Harvard and psychology with William James; her scholarly brother leo, with whom she lived at Paris and Florence before the advent of Alice B. Toklas, thought she was "basically stupid"; Picasso became her great friend, and commentators often refer to her linguistic experiments as the verbal equivalent of Cubism. Professor Bridgman, in his extremely useful and thoroughgoing textual analysis, thinks that after The Making of Americans she scuttled completely the slender concern she had with analytic order and began her true forays "on behalf of the superiority of instinct and intuition," beginning with the astonishing Tender Buttons, still her most original and controversial "fiction." For Gertrude Stein, "reasonableness does not make for splendor," and though she never denied the beauty and harmony of the great culture of the past, she felt the twentieth century must be both more primitive and sophisticated in its pursuit of art, a creed basic to all notions of modernism and the avant-garde. In her case, this meant writing with such "passionate exactness" that the imagination was stripped to its bare essentials and naming or renaming "things" - acts, landscapes, objects - became an endless obsession. As we now know, such concreteness seems ultimately abstract, such purity unquestionably comic. If the common man reads Gertrude Stein at all, he does so for a laugh. Yet, as Bridgman says, "her bravery is a conspicuous feature of her career": through it, she altered, in ways still difficult to determine, the English language; because of it, she remains something of a myth, embarrassing and intriguing to us all. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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