Autobiographie d'Alice Toklas
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Autobiographie d'Alice Toklas

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  4,662 ratings  ·  367 reviews
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, published in 1933, is Gertrude Stein’s best-selling work and her most accessible. Consisting of seven chapters covering the first three decades of the twentieth century, the book is only incidentally about Toklas’s life. Its real subject, and narrator, is Stein herself, who reportedly had asked Toklas, her lifelong companion, for years...more
264 pages
Published 1980 by Gallimard (first published 1933)
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Diane
Pablo Picasso! Henri Matisse! Ernest Hemingway! F. Scott Fitzgerald! Sherwood Anderson! T. S. Eliot! Djuna Barnes! Ezra Pound! Georges Braque! Ford Madox Ford! Jean Cocteau!

All of these artists and writers were bumping into each other in Paris in the 1920s, often at Gertrude Stein's apartment, the famous salon at 27 rue de Fleurus. (And if you're wondering who the hell Alice B. Toklas is, she was Stein's longtime partner and lover, and calling it an autobiography but yet it was written by Stein...more
Michelle
Hold your forefinger and thumb approximately an inch apart. That was how much I knew about Gertrude Stein prior to reading The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. I’m certainly no expert now, not even close, but I can safely say that I am completely enamored of both Stein and her life partner, Toklas.

No, it’s not because of the near-constant stream of visiting artists and other members of Parisian society to their home at rue de Fleurus in the early 1900s, though that was impressive. They were ve...more
Paul
3.75 stars rounded up.
I struggle with Gertrude Stein, as I struggled with this novel. I don’t think this work is typical of Stein as she wrote it very quickly with the idea of being commercial as she needed money; not a problem in itself, but it meant she was also ambivalent about it. It is a novel written as though Stein’s partner Alice Toklas is writing an account of Stein’s life in Paris before and after the First World War. It is also an account of those many famous and not so famous writers...more
Cheryl
"And now I will tell you how two Americans happened to be in the heart of an art movement of which the outside world at that time knew nothing."

I'm ashamed that I haven't delved into Stein's work until now, but quite honestly, at 900+ pages, The Making of Americans seemed daunting. Yet when I saw Stein's character in the movie Midnight in Paris, and I read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, I knew it was time to read the work of one of the few women writers of her time and place. So I started with h...more
Jesse
I don't dispute the book's importance, by Stein's style drives me bonkers. I'd much rather read ABOUT her than actually read her. That said, I'm glad she existed-- I'm also glad I'm not forced to read this all the time.
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 25, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Top 10 Gay and Lesbian Novels; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, memoirs
What makes this book memorable for me is this interesting idea: a pseudo-autobiography. Gertrude Stein wrote this book from the perspective of her lover, Alice B. Toklas. It is like an autobiography yet Stein put herself in Toklas' shoes. I am still to read Stein's first novel, Three Lives and her long The Making of the Americans both of which were mentioned a lot of time in this book but I have an inkling that Stein's writing style or voice here is different from what she used in those two book...more
Kim

This is a must-read for anyone interested in artists and writers in Paris in the early part of the 20th century, because every writer and artist of any note who was in Paris at that time encountered Gertrude Stein at some point. Picasso, Braque, Matisse and Magritte, Apollinaire, Gide, Pound and Hemingway: all of them and many others attended Stein's celebrated Saturday evening salon.

Stein wrote this work in the conversational style of Toklas, who was her life partner. Ostensibly Toklas' autobi...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I had seen them during my mother's 75th birthday celebrations last January 2011. Both old women, lifetime companions. C. is the more "manly" of the two, short haircut, never wears a skirt. B. is my distant relative, very feminine in her deportment, said to have been the former girlfriend of another relative of mine (now deceased, God bless his soul). They brought with them to the party their three-year-old adopted girl, begot out-of-wedlock by a prostitute in our hometown, father unknown. Years...more
Madeline
During my Modern Poetry class in college, we read some of Tender Buttons (prompting me to write a scathing review of it, which was promptly trolled) and my professor explained Gertrude Stein thus: "Gertrude Stein believed that there was only one great poet of the twentieth century, and it was her. She might admit that Shakespeare was talented as well, but only on a good day."

Having now read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, I fully support this assessment of Miss Stein. Not that I dislike h...more
Maria Fuentes
I admire Gertrude Stein. Her life, her friends, her vision....and can only settle to enjoy a little piece of this wonderful life through her words. But, what makes Gertrude Stein so appealing to me?

Gertrude Stein, the author of books like Three Lives, The Making of the Americans and Tender Buttons among others works, always had a passion for the perfection of sentences. The use of fabricated words offended her, she taught they were an escape to imitative emotionalism. Like her, I also believe t...more
Jennifer
I read this in my last year of college, in an autobiography seminar. Though it's not really an autobiography. A fictional autobiography.

I enjoyed it. Our class ultimately decided that it was an amazing love letter to Alice from Gertrude. It is incredibly pretentious and presumptious, but a love letter nonetheless. Just because the author is hopelessly self-involved doesn't make it any less a love letter.

Beautiful.
Laura
Free download available at eBooks@Adelaide.

Opening lines:
Iwas born in San Francisco, California. I have in consequence always preferred living in a temperate climate but it is difficult, on the continent of Europe or even in America, to find a temperate climate and live in it. My mother’s father was a pioneer, he came to California in ‘49, he married my grandmother who was very fond of music. She was a pupil of Clara Schumann’s father. My mother was a quiet charming woman named Emilie.


A splendid...more
Katie
I will confess that I was intimidated by this book, having read only isolated bits of Stein and having heard much about her difficulty. So I was surprised to find this book so readable, and so downright funny in places. It's an odd sort of memoir, skating along across the surface of Stein's and Toklas's life together and almost never delving into any sort of interiority or emotional depth, but it's full of clever lines and sharp little portraits of all the writers and artists that they knew in P...more
montana
Jul 13, 2007 montana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lesbian geniuses and their supporters
Yes. Finally found, rather Ruthie found, in a bookshop here and finished her in a few days. Gertrude Stien appears at least five times on every page usually with some remark about being friends with Picasso or not having interest in some other painter or person of prewar, war, or just post wwI era. Her comments on Hemmingway are hysterical and on the whole I have a great weakness for facilitators of art, and this book was very validating in that regard. Interesting as a writer to try to write in...more
Antonomasia
This book put two songs in my head*.
Harpers Bizarre - I Love You Alice B. Toklas
Peter Sarstedt - Where Do You Go To My Lovely?** (mentions of the Boulevard Saint Michel)

It's also a reminder that avant-gardes using simplified, faux-naive writing styles (e.g. Tao Lin and alt-lit) are nothing new. I've said quite a few times this year that I don't enjoy these very basic styles, that I feel some writers under-describe - yet I did rather like the Autobiography. It's not a flat sort of basic, conveyin...more
Becky
Gertrude Stein writes her partner's fictional autobiography which turns out to be more a biography of Gertrude Stein and her friendship with Picasso and Matisse loaded with gossipy accounts of her Salon she ran in Paris just before and during these painters rise to fame. While Stein is, as she boasts, often annoyingly, a genius, her crisp conversational prose makes the book a fascinating rendering of an art subculture during a time of modern(ist), and futurist breakthroughs, it really left me a...more
Phil
I did enjoy this book, but not as much as Gertrude Stein probably enjoyed writing it, or thinks that I should like it. And that's my main problem with this book; Stein isn't the epoch-making writer that she believes herself to be.

A few things to get straight: i) this isn't an autobiography of Alice B Toklas, ii) this is a sort of autobiography of Gertrude Stein, iii) not a lot happens, iv) most of the people mentioned as geniuses are no longer more than footnotes in art history, v) Stein's writ...more
Anna
Aug 14, 2007 Anna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people languishing in obscurity
this book is interesting because of the seemingly endless stream of people flowing through stein's house, and also for the depiction of how hard stein had to work to get her work published, and for how long she was downright obscure. this will surely warm the cockles of the hearts of many contemporary writers and thinkers languishing in obscurity, but i - interested in self-publishing - also took heart from the fact that toklas herself took up the challenge of publishing stein's work herself. ho...more
Joe Cummings
As I have said in other reviews of other books, Paris during the 20th Century was a magnet for some of the great artists, writers and other intellectuals of our time. (Actually, Paris has been attracting great minds since before Peter Abelard in the eleventh century.) The delights of the City of Lights for Earnest Hemingway and others of the Lost Generation during the 1920s was recently shown the nostalgic 2011 Woody Allen film "Paris after Midnight." Part of the movie was centered around the sa...more
Jesse
At first it just seems like simply a gossipy good time, but it also functions as a fascinating mise en abyme (the author speaking about herself through the voice of her partner, etc).

It's a thoroughly delightful portal through which to slip into 1920's Paris. I'd wager that Hemingway's A Moveable Feast is generally preferred, but I'm definitely Team Stein.
Charity (CJ)
Before I started reading The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, I looked at reviews online. Many, many of them mention how conceited Stein is. They complain that she thinks herself a genius and that her writing is fantastic and groundbreaking and to the writing world what Picasso’s paintings are to the art world.

After reading the book, I would contend that she’s not nearly as much of a braggart as people say she is, and that the book itself is something of a joke, and she intersperses self-deprec...more
Aeron
I read this to prepare for a mystery dinner party we had in which I played the character of Alice B. Toklas. It was certainly an interesting read, and it must have been tongue in cheek. It was not a cohesive, flowing narrative, but more like a series of random vignettes about the lives of Alice and Gertrude and all the famous people they knew.

It is really Gertrude Stein's autobiography, masquerading as Alice's biography. It is ballsy to tell your own story through the eyes of your beloved. I me...more
Casey
You have to have a LOT of patience to get through Stein's style of writing. You also have to cage your inner-editor (OHH, how often I wanted to just get a red pen and add all those commas she so vehemently disliked), but if you can, I'm telling you she is a literary gem.

This book blows away all expectations we set of writing, specifically of autobiography. First of all, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas BY Gertrude Stein is a paradox right away. So, one can assume that we are not going to get...more
John Spillane
Oh man Gertrude, by your own description you were a pill. Stein got an unimaginable number of tiffs and spats, but to her credit, strong personalities take note, she also patched them up even if it took a couple years. Her pal-ing around with Picasso, Matisse, and every other notable figure of the era is interesting in the beginning, but the book quickly devolves into her recounting every minor social slight and every success involving her being admitted with or without a passport, if they weigh...more
toft
This is really great. I was expecting it to be inaccessible but it wasn't - the prose took a little getting used to, that's all, but I began to find it very satisfying and beautiful quite quickly. It's mostly this great picture of being part of this arty, intellectual circle in prewar and wartime Paris, and living through the first world war, and being an ex-pat American. A lot of the book is about the circle of cubists (har har) that Stein and Toklas were hanging with, and I feel like I miss a...more
Rachel
I finally read this book four years after taking a seminar on Gertrude Stein. I missed her voice and was looking to recapture my love of her writing, so I was really coming from a pretty biased viewpoint. I think this book is best experienced as an introduction to Stein: it provides an overview of her career up until she became more widely published and it eases the reader into Stein's way of seeing and writing. It is by no means exemplary.

The first half read like a list of people encountered an...more
Mimonni
Questo libro e questo personaggio ( Gertrude Stein ) mi incuriosivano da diverso tempo. In Accademia il prof di Arte parlava della Stein come del piedistallo su cui basava il Cubismo, le sue citazioni erano oro colato. Non discuto. Però io non riesco a capirla a fondo, perlomeno avendo letto di suo solo questo libro.
Però provo a mettermi nei panni di chi vedeva i primi quadri cubisti nel suo studio a Parigi che ne era tapezzato da cima a fondo ( soprattutto Picasso che fu suo grande amico fra al...more
Ahmad
643. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein
اتوبیوگرافی آلیس بی. تکلاس - گرترود استاین (آگاه) ادبیات
گرترود استاین نویسنده، شاعر، نمایشنامه­نویس و از پیشگامان جنبش مدرن در ادبیات قرن بیستم است. شاید بتوان ایشان را بنیانگذار مکتب کوبیسم در ادبیات دانست. گرترود، از دانشجویان برجسته ویلیام جیمز بود، او براى اخذ مدرک پزشکى خویش به دانشکده پزشکى هاپکینز می­رود. در آنجا مطالعاتی برای تشریح مغز انجام میدهد ولى پس از سپرى کردن چند ترم، دانشکده پزشکى را بدون اخذ مدرک ترک میکند، سپس در صدد برم...more
Eric Phetteplace
Oct 16, 2011 Eric Phetteplace rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in modernism from a historical standpoint
Shelves: prose
I always end up being super opinionated about Gertrude Stein books. It's a love/hate thing, because she's such a clearly talented writer but devotes her time to such frustrating works.
Autobiography isn't a bad book. It's full of interesting sentences and often amusing. But the topic is so profoundly uninteresting to me. Really, you were besties with Picasso? Great. The book is just one long list of people Stein partied with and whether she liked them or was "not interested" in them. I can scarce...more
Bren
A wonderful lady in her seventies that I talked to about this book said that it reminded her of the movies of the 30s and 40s; a kind of madcap romantic comedy, only about two women. I liked that idea, and maybe that's partly why it was so successful at the time. But I also found it really vexing, although the central narrative conundrum is also pretty fascinating; why write the story of your own life in the voice of your beloved--and have her say repeatedly what a genius you are? Is it comic; c...more
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500 Great Books B...: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas - Gertrude Stein 1 5 Jul 10, 2014 09:57PM  
  • Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company
  • The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf
  • Shakespeare and Company
  • Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties
  • Eminent Victorians
  • Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939
  • The Nature and Destiny of Man Vol 1 & 2
  • In the American Grain (New Directions Paperback No. 53)
  • Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson
  • American Language
  • Nightwood
  • The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition
  • The Sweet Science
  • The Education of Henry Adams
  • Hope Against Hope
  • The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook
  • Journal of a Solitude
  • Black Lamb and Grey Falcon
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Gertrude Stein was an American writer who spent most of her life in France, and who became a catalyst in the development of modern art and literature. Her life was marked by two primary relationships, the first with her brother Leo Stein, from 1874-1914, and the second with Alice B. Toklas, from 1907 until Stein's death in 1946. Stein shared her salon at 27 rue de Fleurus, Paris, first with Leo an...more
More about Gertrude Stein...
Tender Buttons Three Lives Picasso Selected Writings Paris France

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“She always says she dislikes the abnormal, it is so obvious. She says the normal is so much more simply complicated and interesting.” 26 likes
“A little artist has all the tragic unhappiness and the sorrows of a great artist and he is not a great artist.” 15 likes
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