Carrol's Reviews > The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
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's review
Jan 05, 2012

it was ok

A mildly amusing and entertaining glimpse into the life Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas lived in Paris during the early 20th Century. They entertained regularly on Saturday nights and were acquainted with many people whose names are mentioned throughout the book. Some such as Picasso, Mattise, Renoir, Hemmingway, e.e. cummings, Ezra Pound, and Sherwood Anderson I recognized, but most were lesser lights who were unknown to me. (Though when I looked them up on the internet I usually found them.) Part of her fame can be attributed to her collection of works by artists then considered avant garde. In spite of the title, the book is actually about Gertrude Stein, written as though by Alice, her life partner. The main insight that one receives into Gertrude, however, is that she held a high opinion of her own writing and literary innovations and felt that she deserved a prominent place in the literary sphere. An honor that was never quite achieved. She considered herself to be a major influence on "modern" writers. Early in the book, Alice proclaims Gertrude to be one of only three geniuses she ever met. Gertrude, who consistently refers to herself as "Gertrude Stein" throughout the book, was so well known, though, and knew so many people that she must have been a compelling and attractive personality. (She had a number of falling outs with friends from time to time. Occasionally they made up.)

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