1874-1946, American avant-garde author, playwright who lived most of her life in Paris

She was educated briefly in Europe and then at Radcliffe. She went abroad with her brother Leo in 1902 and until her death lived mainly in Paris.

In the period of 1906-1908, she developed a method of writing called linguistic repetition. She repeats certain words and phrases, much like mps attempted to emulate below.

Her first publication in a periodical was in Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Work magazine.

In 1920s she led a cultural salon, acting as a patron for such artists as:

Known as salon at 27 rue de fleurus many international literary and cultural icons attended.

Just as England declared war on Germany, Stein was visiting the philosopher A. N. Whitehead at his home in Britain. After a short stay in Majorca, she returned to Paris for the duration of the war.

In 1934 Stein travelled to New York, where her opera, "Four Saints In Three Acts", music composed by Virgil Thomson, had become a huge success with an all-black cast.

Although she wrote a lot of poetry, probably her most famous work was, Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas 1933.

She is buried in Le Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris.

Other titles include:

Influenced Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald

Related nodes:

Sources: http://www.sci.fi/~solaris/stein/steinbib.html http://www.tenderbuttons.com/ Last Updated 09.26.04

Gertrude Stein was an artist an artist Gertrude Stein was an artist and a writer. An artist in that she was a cubist. It is nice to be a cubist and that is why she was a cubist. Gertrude Stein an artist a cubist writer wrote in a distinctive style because she was a cubist. The style is cubist. It is a style. It is a style and it is a style, and it is a cubist style in which she wrote when she was alive. When she was alive she would write. A book Gertrude Stein wrote is How to Write. Gertrude Stein a writer was a writer Gertrude Stein knew how to write and how to write How to Write but to some it seems and to others also probably it seems that she does not and did not and does not know how to write. Because of the repetition the repetition an artifact of the style it is a style but it can be pretty annoying if it is not a style you happen to like. But it is a style that is not pretty annoying if it is a style you happen to like. It is a cubist style. You happen to like what you happen to like to like Stein liked Picasso. Also Stein liked Alice B. Toklas. If you try for a moment just for a moment and if you try to examine your thoughts your words and visions and take them apart. If you try for a moment you can take them apart, the words and visions and use the words to draw out the abstract notions that were there all along the abstract notions that are pulled out when you try to. It is nice that there was a Gertrude Stein a writer who can be pretty annoying if it is not a style you happen to like.

Gertrude Stein may be best known for the line ``A rose is a rose is a rose'' (although it isn't quite what she wrote---see the hardlink for more info). The above paragraph is intended to explain why she wrote ``Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose'' and multiple variations of it in Sacred Emily, The World is Round, As Fine as Melanctha, and other poems.

Gertrude Stein suffered from Chronic Talent Deficiency, or perhaps not. Perhaps she enjoyed every minute of it. As for the Stein-Alice B. Toklas connection, they were lesbian lovers.

To call Gertrude Stein a literary cubist is to make a serious mistake. The concept of literary cubism is a bunch of happy horseshit. This is because a simple truth. Words have meaning. Visual cubism works because colors and shapes do not have intrinsic meanings. A splash of red on a canvas could be the bloom of a flower, or a pool of blood. It only takes on meaning when other elements in the painting are compared against it.

A single word, on the other hand can be a very powerful thing. I will take as my example, the most powerfully evocative word in the English language. Phonetically, there is very little difference between the word "nigger" and the word "ginger". To your cubist, these words are practically the same. Anyone attempting to argue this point is out of touch. One of them, spoken suddenly will get you, at the very least, some strange looks, and at the outside, severely beaten. The other outburst will not merit nearly as strong a reaction.

Yet Gertrude Stein is hailed as some sort of genius, for doing what nobody else did. Nobody else did it because what Gertrude Stein did is of little literary value. Anyone truly wishing to torture themselves is invited to check out (*link excised as linked site no longer exists*)

Amongst other things, that link contains a download of a small DOS program which will convert any ASCII file into the same sort of incoherent babble that Gertrude Stein wrote.

Gertrude Stein was a pioneer in many disciplines. She excelled in every medium she explored. She was a poet, a dramatist, a lesbian and a feminist. Her forays into the world of music with Virgil Thomson produced two works that changed the face of opera altogether. Their opera Four Saints in Three Acts was one of the frontrunners in the Modernist movement. The Mother of Us All, about Susan B. Anthony, brought the feminist movement crashing through the walls of male-dominated operas that were reigning for almost 200 years.

Above all else, what makes Stein such a genius is her exquisite use of language, a new use of language. What other people thought of as gibberish, nonsensical homophone exchanges and repetition of useless words and phrases was to Stein her way of breaking free from a patriarchal stranglehold on lingual syntax. She used words to reach for something new and intangible, almost as if woman had rediscovered language and began anew. She was breaking away from all the patriarchal rules. That includes the rules of grammar, parts of speech, sentence structure and connotation. Her work asks the question “Who watches over the language?”

In the process of redefining the English language, she in turn redefined society. Many people define her as a Cubist. Cubism is usually a term reserved for visual artists, but it is uniquely applied to Stein. The cube is not a flat space that one paints (or paints words) upon, but a three-dimensional area of space and time. Her use of the non-linear narrative form can keep us in the moment, but that moment may not move to the next logical one. Four Saints in Three Acts is a perfect example of her use of non-linear narrative form. There are two narrators, but very little narration. There are a great deal of actors, but very little action. The switch from two dimensions to three dimensions frees the author from writing from left to right, from then to now. Yesterday, today and tomorrow can have no meaning, or more meaning than one would think necessary.

Her contribution to the Modern and Post-Modern movements is immense. She is the Mother of the Pun. She is the mother of all who are free with our language. She is the mother of the non-linear narrative (I suspect that Pulp Fiction could never have been made if it were not for Stein). She is the mother of all who strive for new meaning in old connotations. She is the Mother of Us All.

The great modernist writer Gertrude Stein was born in 1874 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania and died in her adopted home, Paris, in 1946. Stein's style of writing was at its best a celebration of language and at its worst unintelligible. She was an avant garde phenomenon, a media sensation, a friend and patron of some of the greatest artists of her time, and an open lesbian. Truly an impressive woman.

Gertrude was the fifth child of Daniel and Amelia Stein, and the baby of this upper-middle class family. When she was three her family moved to Vienna, then Paris; they returned to the States and settled in Oakland, California in 1878.

So I was five years old when we came back to America having known Austrian German and French French, and now American English, a nice world if there is enough of it, and more or less there always is.

She was close to her brother Leo, two years older, and displayed her fascination with words and sentences at an early age; she devoured the works of William Shakespeare and tried her hand at writing while still a school girl.

I suppose other things may be more exciting to others...I like the feeling the everlasting feeling of sentences as they diagram themselves.

In 1891 the family moved to San Francisco, where Gertrude became fascinated with theatre and opera. She pursued this new passion in Baltimore, where she moved to live with a wealthy aunt. Two years later she entered Radcliffe College and studied with the eminent philosopher William James, who admired her greatly. One fine spring day she wrote at the top of her exam paper,

Dear Professor James,
I am sorry but really I do not feel a bit like an examination paper in philosophy today.

and the next day received a postcard from him which read

I understand perfectly how you feel I often feel like that myself.

and she received the highest mark in the class. Things like that happened to Gertrude Stein.

Gertrude decided to study medicine and enrolled in Johns Hopkins, but wanderlust overtook her before she graduated and she went to Europe instead of finishing her degree; she later took up her studies again before abandoning the whole idea of becoming a doctor. After traveling through Germany and Italy she lived with Leo for a while in London; she returned for a time to the US and wrote her first semi-autobiographical novel, Q.E.D., about a love triangle among three upper middle class women. Gertrude wrote it as therapy to help get over a failed love affair, then stuck it in a drawer, thinking it unpublishable; it only appeared posthumously. Her first published work was a piece in Alfred Stieglitz's highly regarded "Camera Works" periodical.

In 1904 Gertrude moved to Paris and in with Leo at 27 rue de Fleurus, where she would reside for almost 40 years.

Paris was the place that suited those of us that were to create the twentieth century art and literature.

Leo, who would become a respected art critic, had started collecting modern art, and Gertrude joined in with alacrity. Their modest home was stacked with paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Braque, Gris, and numerous others. Many of these painters became their friends, and their Saturday night dinner parties became famous "salon" events amongst European artists as well as visiting expatriates like Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway told her
It was a vital day for me when I stumbled upon you.

During her early years in Paris Picasso painted a famous portrait of Gertrude Stein. She sat for him in his cold and filthy apartment while he worked on the piece; eventually he became so frustrated that he painted out the head and abandoned the work while he went for a long trip to Spain. When he came back to the painting he gave her a strange angular face which people complained she did not resemble at all. He would shrug and say

She will.

He gave her the painting as a gift, and she was thrilled. Of it, she later declared:

I was and still am satisfied with my portrait, for me it is I, and it is the only reproduction of me which is always I, for me.

In Paris she wrote Three Lives (1905), a book composed of three short stories about women she had known - two German servants from her childhood and a young black woman she had worked with at medical school. The novella showcases her repetitive style and technique in a relatively accessible manner. She then wrote The Making of Americans, intended to describe and analyze "everyone who is, or has been, or will be". She didn't do things by halves, that Gertrude Stein.

Gertrude was particularly drawn to Cubism, and she attempted to write in a Cubist style, emphasizing the present moment and using repetition with slight variation and very simplistic and fragmented language. Her highly original and experimental literary style did not win her much popularity, and at its most extreme - for example, in Tender Buttons (1914) - she was virtually unintelligible. About this book, poet William Carlos Williams said

she has completely unlinked the words from their former relationships to the sentence

and though I do not think he meant this as a compliment, I suspect Gertrude took it as one.

In 1906 Gertrude met Alice B. Toklas at one of her salons; in 1910 Alice moved in with Gertrude, and is commonly referred to as Gertrude's "lifelong companion". We can take that to signify that they were lovers, friends, confidantes, co-workers, and soulmates. Life companions.

Gertrude was a very large woman; her friend Mabel Dodge once commented that she was

positively, richly attractive in her grand ampleur. She always seemed to like her own fat anyway and that usually helps other people to accept it. She had none of the funny embarrassment Anglo-Saxons have about the flesh. She gloried in hers.

Gertrude dressed in an idiosyncratic style; she was fond of voluminous corduroy pants or skirts and would throw on a turban when she was going out. Alice was thinner but an equally eccentric dresser. The two went everywhere together, and were quite a sight. They were unconcerned about that. One doesn't care about being a spectacle when one is Gertrude Stein.

Leo and Gertrude had always had a volatile relationship; they were both opinionated and strong-willed, and he was dismissive of her writing. In 1913 their relations became so strained that he moved out of their house, and they would have little contact after that.

In the meantime, war was coming. Gertrude, Alice, and their poodle Basket left Paris for the countryside in 1914. When they returned in 1916 they decided to help the French by joining the "American Fund for French Wounded". They had a Ford shipped from the States and outfitted to deliver supplies to hospitals around Paris; they called the car "Auntie" after Gertrude's aunt in America. Gertrude was a reckless driver who scared the bejesus out of all who shared the road with her. Gertrude and Alice were happy barrelling around Paris in Auntie, helping out the wounded. When Auntie failed they got another automobile which they called "Godiva" because of her glaring lack of all amenities.

The public found Gertrude's writing hard to understand, and in Composition as Explanation and What is a Masterpiece she tried to explain what she was doing and why her writing wasn't popular.

For a very long time everybody refuses and then almost everybody without a pause almost everybody accepts. ... When the acceptance comes, by that acceptance the thing created becomes a classic. And what is the characteristic quality of a classic. The characteristic quality of a classic is that it is beautiful. ... Of course it is beautiful but first all beauty in it is denied and then all the beauty of it is accepted.

Gertrude Stein believed in her work, and so did Alice. Alice encouraged Gertrude to write her memoirs in a popular style so that they could cash in on Gertrude's talent. Finally, when she was almost 60, Gertrude did. Though titled The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, it's really a biography of Gertrude herself, written in the voice of Alice, by Gertrude, typed by Alice.

I may say that only three times in my life have I met a genius and each time a bell within me rang and I was not mistaken, and I may say in each case it was before there was any general recognition of the quality of genius in them. The three geniuses of whom I wish to speak are Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Alfred Whitehead.

So wrote Gertrude Stein in Alice's autobiography.

Published in 1933, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was a bestseller and was serialized in "Atlantic Monthly". It made Gertrude a lot of money, which she supplemented by returning to the US for the first time in decades and going on a lecture tour. She was nervous that people wouldn't accept her because she'd been away for 30 years, but she was wrong. She was a media sensation. Alice and Gertrude criss-crossed the nation, giving lectures and meeting famous people. Gertrude also promoted her opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, scored by Virgil Thomson.

It was Alice who recognized the famous sound-byte

A rose is a rose is a rose

and used it on their stationary and tablecloths and napkins and everywhere Gertrude would allow her to.

In 1937 their beloved Basket died, and Gertrude and Alice got another poodle who they named Basket.

Basket, a large, unwieldy white poodle, still will get up on Gertrude's lap and stay there. She says that listening to the rhythm of his water drinking made her recognize the difference between sentences and paragraphs, that paragraphs are emotional and sentences are not.

In perfectly repetitive fashion, this would continue, and there were several Baskets over the years they lived together. They doted over their Baskets.

So said Alice in her autobiography by Gertrude Stein.

Meanwhile, to Gertrude's astonishment, another war seemed imminent.

After all if anybody had done a really big war it is not so easy to do it again

she wisely opined, but do it again they did. Alice and Gertrude left the capital for the countryside, where they remained until 1944. It was dangerous for them - both were Jewish - but neighbours referred to them as American spinsters, and they were not sent to concentration camps like other Jews and homosexuals. They had no income and were forced to sell paintings they had brought from Paris in order to buy food; they often had to walk miles just to buy bread.

Finally they were able to return to Paris, where they found their paintings miraculously untouched. Gertrude befriended GIs in Paris and was legendary for her kindness and generosity to them; of this time she said she felt like "everybody's grandmother". Her book Brewsie and Willy was about these GIs.

A few years later Gertrude began to complain of stomach pains; it was colon cancer, and soon after she was dead. She left her estate to Alice. Alice died 21 years after Gertrude, in 1967, and is buried next to her in Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

The quotations here are all from two wonderful websites, www.gurl.com/movers/deadwomen/gertrude/salon.html and ellensplace.net/gstein1.html, supplemented by mundane details from www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/stein-bio.html

For a complete bibliography of Gertrude's writing - there's lots more that I haven't mentioned - see www.sci.fi/~solaris/stein/steinbib.html

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