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Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company (Lost Generation Trilogy #1)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  283 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
On almost every Saturday of the first half of the twentieth century, Gertrude Stein would open her door to the likes of Picasso and Matisse, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Cocteau and Apollinaire, welcoming them into a salon alive with vivid avant-garde paintings and sparkling intellectual conversation. In Charmed Circle, James R. Mellow has re-created this fascinating world an ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published January 1st 1974)
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Mikey B.
Dec 19, 2012 Mikey B. rated it really liked it
An interesting biography of this American who left her country for France at the turn of the century. Gertrude Stein returned only once to the United States as part of a book promotion tour. She stayed in France until her death in 1946 – she is buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

She met several people during her life’s journey – most of who were connected with the arts like Picasso, Matisse, Erik Satie, F. Scott Fitzgerald – the list goes on. She was also a collector –but she could only
...more
Dean
Dec 19, 2012 Dean rated it it was amazing
Not sure where to start with this book - it sort of came at me on many different levels. First, it was a little more difficult read than most of the biographies we get today. It was pretty scholarly and very thorough, but it was also extremely interesting. For those who haven't gone beyond " . . . a rose is a rose is a rose . . .," this book will open your eyes to the life of a very interesting thinker and writer. As others have stated, Stein comes off as being very ego-centric - she seems to ha ...more
Karyn
Mar 12, 2012 Karyn rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
Which is more plodding and ponderous, the author or Gertrude Stein? I quit reading this lumbering giant of a book at page 300, in part because I disliked the characters (Gertrude's self-obsession and bloated ego) and inaccurate descriptions of others. For instance, on page 279 Natalie Clifford Barney is "a wealthy American widow." This statement almost closed the book for me, because it implies that she inherited her financial independence from a husband. This led me to question the validity of ...more
Rita
Nov 18, 2011 Rita rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
1974. Many parts were interesting. A concise edition would make a good read [tho I suppose not everyone would agree on which parts could be cut]

Enough things to ponder in the book - being independently wealthy [though the wealth was limited] and how lucky [I suppose] Gertrude and her brother Leo were that elder brother Michael was so competent in managing the inheritance and sending them their monthly allowances and extra money when needed. Ponder how different life would have been if this finan
...more
Kate
May 19, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
Charmed Circle was written in 1974, (and I was reading a first edition paperback), so it does contain a lot of dated language. (I don't think anyone would call Richard Wright a "Negro author" today.)

Gertrude Stein is a very complex character, and her work is extraordinarily difficult to navigate. Most people know the line of her poetry "Rose is a Rose is a rose is a rose," but beyond that few people know who she is today. She spent most of her life in France, among an incredible circle of writer
...more
Dvora
Sep 02, 2015 Dvora rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a particularly long book. Why then, did it take me so very long to read it? Because it was very boring. This is one of those rarities -- a boring book on an interesting subject.

That subject is Gertrude Stein and her circle of friends. The friends include Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Juan Gris, Matisse, Cezanne, and many, many others. Those people and that time and place fascinate me, and I've read accounts about and by many of them. And I must say that of all those fascinating and
...more
Joe Mossa
Sep 04, 2008 Joe Mossa rated it liked it

biographers must work tremendously hard for little credit or money. this bio has more detail than i need and yet i enjoyed it. i had to skip many parts cause i wanted to hear the narrative. it reads like a 'whos whos' of early 20th century artists and writers. look at the index in the back and see the many famous people that gertrude and her 40 year partner knew,well. she compares herself to joyce but i think they are totally different. when scholars study joyce they can understand his ULYSSES
...more
Brie
Oct 22, 2007 Brie rated it it was ok
I don't want to like Gertrude Stein, but I can't help it. Her conceit and self-obsession annoy me, but I love the way that it just seems to work for her. I don't like her naivety and total oblivion to the world around her, but at the same time I respect the way that she lives her life exactly the way that she wants to. This book interested me mainly because of the crazy assortment of people that seemed to always flock to her, although I don't really understand why they did. I think that I would' ...more
Aubrey
Oct 03, 2011 Aubrey rated it really liked it
This was a very well written and interesting account of Gertrude Stein's life and relationships with so many famous authors, artists, collectors, and musicians. It gives a pretty interesting picture of life in France between (and during) the world wars as well as communications with America during those times.

It was fascinating to read accounts of such famous icons as Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, etc.

I finished this book (which has many pictures in it as well) just in time to see an exhibit at
...more
Emily
Jul 09, 2007 Emily rated it it was ok
Her life was so so so interesting! she one of the first out and proud lesbians of the world, she was friends and the first supporters of Matisse and Picasso, she knew all of the avant garde writers, publishers and artists of france, she had weekly salons in her art filled, Latin Quarter apartment... she was awesome. but this book is so dry and boring and plodding, I couldn't finish it. Definitally read a biography of her, because she's the bomb, but do not read this one.
Erin
Jan 19, 2012 Erin rated it liked it
This book was a great biography detailing the life of Gertrude Stein, and also the lives of her friends including Alice Toklas, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso. The author, James Mellow, said he wanted to show the tender side of Stein, and he achieved that goal in describing the ways she encouraged and supported young artists and writers, but he was also not reluctant to show her egotistical side to give a more complete portrait of this strong, intelligent, and independent woman.
George Ilsley
Sometimes it it hard to read enough about Gertrude and Alice. In fact I have spent way more time reading about them than I have actually reading Stein's works. They are so interesting, and every biographer brings something new. This one, for example, barely mentions Samuel Stewart; another might focus on just this one relationship.
Mary
Jul 19, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely interesting biography of Gertrude Stein which outlines the life she built with her partner Alice B. Toklas and her ever-changing circles of friends and admirers. Definitely seems to gloss over some areas of Stein's life, and makes me want to read a more recent biography (if one exists.)
Barbara
It's good, if you're interested in Gertrude Stein. I am enough. It does a good job of dealing with her life and writing. But, I wouldn't suggest that you rush right out to read it if you're ennhh about her. If you like literary circle stuff and bios, go furth. If not, skip.
David
Mar 21, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
I read this when I was 20 or so, and it made a huge impression. I have been obsessed with Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas ever since. Highly recommended, admittedly from a distance of 35+ years.
Martha
Oct 21, 2012 Martha rated it really liked it
So many famous people move in and out and in and out of this book. What a world this American woman made for herself. It was fun to travel in it.
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