Gertrude Stein wouldn’t be unfamilliar to anyone who has some liking to literature generally. She was a cult figure in the literary modernism in the eGertrude Stein wouldn’t be unfamilliar to anyone who has some liking to literature generally. She was a cult figure in the literary modernism in the early 20th century, no doubt. What makes her so prominent, so eccentric, and so charming concomitantly is her seemingly paradoxical attributes within her expressed in her character and her writing style. All of that is portrayed vividly in this short biography which leads us chronologically into Gertrude Stein’s life, not in detailed, but concisely. Miss Stein’s character is quite appealing, even though it is told summarily through a book, via some anecdotes of hers, and her writing style is somewhat mind-blowing even thought it’s mentioned just in its rough surface.
Right in her early years of life, her self-boasted personality which would be her currency later in literary circles already came to the fore, claiming, in her early teens, that she was afraid of having no decent books to read as she would reached 15. Yet, in spite of always making herself outstanding among people, especially among male figures in order to dominate or overwhelm them by her witty remarks, paradoxically enough, Miss Stein almost inclined to elude the use of her own voice in works, masquerading as someone else to convey her ideas, her thoughts.
In addition to her title of self-proclaimed genius which seems to be presumptuous, the talent of rthetoric expressed in her playful retorts and her charming communication is another eminent aspect of her personality. One of the most well-known anecdotes about her, which strikes me fancy the most, is when she and her girlfriend came back to New York in 1934, and faced a slew of questions by journalists, Miss Stein had a sharp-witted reply to a seemingly-wanting-to-tease-her question:
“Why don’t you write the way you talk?”, asked the journalist. “Why don’t you read the way I write?”, replied Miss Stein.
It’s classic! Typical of Stein’s manner of doing things. And I also read another saying of hers in another book that 12 years later, in 1946, she borrowed Picasso’s voice to speak out her ways of creation: “Picasso said that no one is capable of understanding you who is not capable of doing the same work himself”. On the surface, these two speakings-in-riddle seem to elevate herself above the rank of popular understanding. Yet, if we know of her tendency toward social life, we will be certain that this interpretation is apparently misleading. She always admitted that the intellectual and highbrows didn’t take her fancy, and she chose to “align herself with the middle class”. Perhaps all Miss Stein wanted to express is that readers themselves had to strive to take part in literary works, not only always expected to be offered meanings by authors. In her whole life, Miss Stein resisted against the authoritarian status of her male counterparts at any cost, even by insulting and degrading some colossal figures, such as Ezra Pound or James Joyce.
This thin book is informative enough for an overall picture of Gertrude Stein, perhaps one of the most eccentric literary figures, in seemingly the most tumultuous period of the literary world in the 20th century. Enough to see her “as part of a lineage of women writers providing an alternative to the masculine literary culture in which she worked”. ...more
This is the great book intended for ones who have an interest in American literature in general, and American short-story in particular. The book leadThis is the great book intended for ones who have an interest in American literature in general, and American short-story in particular. The book leads us throughout two centuries, from the emergence of short-story in American literature in early 19th century, with Washington Irving and William Austin at this very beginning, to late 20th century, ending with Raymond Carver....more