Gertrude Stein was born in Pittsburg in 1874. She moved to Paris in 1903.
“For Gertrude Stein, even though she had some money, she was able to have a much more comfortable life in Paris than she would have had she stayed in America. And of course there was tremendous intellectual excitement due to all the artists and authors who chose to live there.” Wai Chee Dimock discussing Hemingway in Paris.
“Tender Buttons in particular was the book that made her notorious. It was a small press publication, but it got picked up by the American newspapers, who began to quote it, parody it, and generally mock it as nonsense. Later, in the 1930s, she goes to the United States on a lecture tour and there’s a little audio clip of a journalist saying to her, “Miss Stein, what do you say to people who don’t understand what you write?” and she says, “I say, if you enjoy it, you understand it.”” Jeremy Noel-Tod recommending prose poetry.
Books by Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein on Picasso
by Gertrude Stein
Aside from artists, Picasso rubbed shoulders with many other 20th century luminaries, who were drawn into his entourage by his charisma and wit. One of his greatest admirers was the American Gertrude Stein, who was a collector of his work from the early days of his career. Picasso’s portrait of her from 1905 demanded no fewer than 90 sittings (though one imagines they enjoyed shooting the breeze). When he gave it to Stein as a gift, she told him that it didn’t look like her. “It will”, he said. Stein’s account of Picasso provides a very good foil to this larger-than-life personality.
“Tender Buttons in particular was the book that made her notorious. She knew that there was something about her writing that fascinated people, and it fascinated them partially because it irritated them. But it irritated them because they were sort of attracted to it, without knowing why. It irritates the rational part of the mind which expects to be able to explain things.” Read more...
Jeremy Noel-Tod, Literary Scholar
“But the book is all about Stein – why she went to Paris, what she did in the US before she went, and the intense friendships she had in Paris with people like Picasso.” Read more...
The best books on Hemingway in Paris
Wai Chee Dimock, Literary Scholar
Interviews where books by Gertrude Stein were recommended
The best books on Hemingway in Paris, recommended by Wai Chee Dimock
Paris in the 1920s was a creative melting pot, the haunt of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce. The Yale English professor gives us a feel for what it was like to be there
The Best Prose Poetry, recommended by Jeremy Noel-Tod
It’s not quite poetry, yet not quite prose: the prose poem is “the defining poetic invention of modernity,” argues Jeremy Noel-Tod, editor of The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem. Here he chooses five of the best prose poems from Arthur Rimbaud to Claudia Rankine.