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date: 22 September 2020

Stein, Gertrude

Gertrude Stein, the expatriate American avant-garde author, poet, and playwright, was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, on 3 February 1874. During her lifetime she was known as the “American eccentric in Paris” who collected and supported postmodernist and cubist art. Although a prolific writer and speaker, her literary contribution was marginalized and seldom recognized. At the age of sixty, astounding her friends and foes alike, she achieved international acclaim when her book, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), became a sensational best-seller. Scholars later considered Stein one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, often dubbed as “the Mother of Modernism.” Stein's influence on a younger generation of writers like Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, and Roger Wright has been underestimated and rarely explored. Known as “always a writer's writer,” she continues to inspire original writing, testing and challenging traditional literary and linguistic forms.

Exceptionally versatile and innovative, Stein's writings attempt to convey cubist perspective in literary form. Her linguistic and stylistic experiments permeate into almost any known literary genre. She developed a personal relationship with parts of speech, phonetics, morphology, grammatical punctuation, and the innate meanings of plain English words. Furthermore, “sentences not only words but sentences and always sentences have been Gertrude Stein's life long passion.” Driven by a desire to express herself in a new way, to break away from the literature of the nineteenth century, similarly to the newly forming visual art that was being created in Paris at the beginning of the twentieth century, she produced writings that were frequently unintelligible and “difficult.” Consequently, many of her writings remained unpublished at the time of her death in 1946 and some had to be self-published with the help of Alice B. Toklas, who established a small press, Plain Edition, specifically for that purpose.

During her early childhood Gertrude's parents, Daniel and Amelia (Keyser) Stein and their five children moved throughout Europe, subsequently settling in Oakland, California, in 1880. By the time Stein turned seventeen, she had lost both parents and had moved to San Francisco to live with her oldest brother, Michael. In 1892 Gertrude and her sister Bertha moved to Baltimore to live with their maternal aunt. A year later, following in the footsteps of her brother Leo, she entered the Harvard Annex (Radcliffe College) and studied under Hugo Münsterberg, William Vaughn Moody, and William James, her mentor and greatest influence. In 1896 Stein and Leon Solomons published the Normal Motor Automatism in Psychological Review. While at Radcliffe she failed her Latin exam and was refused her degree, which was ultimately awarded to her in 1898. On the advice of William James, she entered the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1897, but failed four courses and did not receive a degree.

In 1903, Gertrude joined Leo in Paris, at 27 rue de Fleurus, and started working on the early drafts of The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family's Progress (1925) and Things As They Are: A Novel in Three Parts (1950). Fascinated by Charles Loeser's collection of Cézanne's paintings in Florence, the Steins began collecting postimpressionist art works. In 1905 they purchased Henri Matisse's La Femme au Chapeau (1904–1905) and met Pablo Picasso, Gertrude's most admired friend and artist, who painted her illustrious portrait. In 1909 Stein published her first book, Three Lives: Stories of the Good Anna, Melanctha, and the Gentle Lena, and Alice B. Toklas, whom she had met in 1907, moved in with her. Their lesbian relationship lasted for thirty-nine years, until Stein's death. The couple kept a hectic literary and artistic salon in their apartment, frequented by prominent figures such as Matisse, Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, Georges Braque, Sherwood Anderson, Carl Van Vechten, and Ernest Hemingway. Remarkably, Stein and Toklas survived the two world wars, and the two decades between them were Stein's most productive and prolific years. (Altogether, according to the Yale Catalogue, Stein wrote 571 works between 1903 and 1946.) With the publication of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in 1933, Stein attained celebrity status. In the mid-1930s Stein toured and lectured throughout England and the United States, promoting her writings and her modernist worldview.

Early Works

According to scholar Leon Katz (1963), Stein's first novella, Q.E.D.—completed in 1903 but not published during her lifetime—describes her love affair with May Bookstaver, a fellow student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. After a short liaison, May Bookstaver favored another young woman over Stein. The love letters between Stein and Bookstaver were confiscated and destroyed by Alice B. Toklas. The manuscript itself—of which Toklas was unaware until 1932, when Stein uncovered it in a drawer full of unpublished manuscripts—was published posthumously as Things As They Are (1950) and in Fernhurst, Q.E.D., and Other Early Writings (1971). Q.E.D. as a work of lesbian fiction depicts a love lost triangle between three young women. Critics were eager to identify its characters with Stein and her former friends at the John Hopkins School of Medicine. Adele, “an unconventional woman” identified as Gertrude, is drawn to Helen Thomas, another middle-class, college-bred woman identified as May Bookstaver. Thereafter, an intense emotional and physical relationship develops between the two only to be disrupted by the third woman, Sophie Neathe. From a literary point of view, Q.E.D., apart from its lesbian content, is Stein's “most conventional work. It has a plot, characters, a narrator, a beginning, a middle and an end” (Three Lives, 201).

Unsuccessful in her efforts to reconcile with Bookstaver, by 1903 Stein had decided to stay in Paris and moved in with her brother Leo. In Paris, Stein found a safe haven to write and cultivate her unique style. The following years were eventful and prolific as she was introduced to modern art and its founders. Leo and Gertrude and their oldest brother Michael began to purchase paintings by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and other modernist artists.

In 1905, Stein commenced working on Three Lives (1909). In A Transatlantic Interview 1946, she explained the means by which Gustave Flaubert's Trois contes (1877) and Paul Cézanne's painting, La Femme au Chapeau, influenced her work: “Cézanne conceived the idea that in composition one thing was important as the whole … it impressed me so much that I began to write Three Lives under this influence.… I was obsessed by this idea of composition, and the Negro story [“Melanctha” in Three Lives] was a quintessence of it.” Stein wrote that “Melanctha,” the second story in the book, “was the first step away from the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century in literature. However, the Washington Herald (12 December 1909) disagreed by calling the work a “peculiar exposition of the art of character delineation” and suggested that “she should attempt the same things with minds of a higher caliber” to achieve a more entertaining result. The Kansas City Star (18 December 1909) felt that the book was intended “for a strictly limited audience,” requiring a slow pace of reading in order to grasp its ideas. Positively, other reviewers labeled it “a futurist novel” while almost unanimously sensing a need to unravel “the blur” it created.

Scrutiny for her work came also from her brother Leo, who described her fascination with language and form as “an abomination.” Leo, who believed he was the Stein family's genius, dominated the discussions during their Saturday salons and would not support his sister's literary endeavors. Only in 1913, after he had left their apartment and moved to Italy, did Gertrude regain her self-confidence and, with the encouragement of her companion, Toklas, reestablish her literary career. Their apartment became “a literary Mecca,” where Stein entertained and befriended young American writers such as Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Sitwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Natalie Clifford Barney, and H. D. (Hilda Doolittle). Concurrently, Stein met the composer Virgil Thomson, who was instrumental in writing the music to her operas and staging them in England and the United States.

Stein and Toklas settled into a domesticity wherein Stein was the genius-writer, philosophizing with the male visitors in their sitting room, and Toklas assumed the role of the secretary, literary aide, and agent who entertained the wives of the male visitors in the kitchen. Bobby Ellen Kimbel has noted that Stein's writing “became more joyous, more rooted in the domestic scene which she experienced daily, and more openly erotic, as in ‘Lifting Belly.’ ” Sometime before 1912 Stein wrote a portrait of Alice B. Toklas entitled Ada. Stylistically, it follows Richard Bridgman's classification of Stein's early works in Gertrude Stein in Pieces (1970): “a simplified, abstract and repeated vocabulary, and utilizing participles, gerunds and impersonal pronouns moving with maddening deliberateness through diagrammatic sentences.” Textually, the portrait depicts Ada, a young woman who lost her mother and lives with her father but later leaves home to find joy and happiness elsewhere, much like Alice herself. Upon examining the original manuscript, Bridgman claimed that Toklas “composed the major part of her first, brief autobiography.” The piece ends with a confirmation of the union between Stein and Toklas, as their separate, individual entities become one: “Trembling was all living, living was all loving, some one was then the other one.”

The Making of Americans

From 1903 to 1911, Stein was intermittently engaged in the writing of her thousand-page book, The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family's Progress, which was not published until 1925. In Stein's own admission, the book is about “the old people in a new world, the new people made out of the old,” in a manner she confesses to have known very well: “We had a mother and a father and I tell all about that in The Making of Americans which is the History of our family.… ” In The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Stein acknowledges “Henry James as her only forerunner” and alludes to The Making of Americans as a “monumental work which was the beginning, really the beginning, of modern writing.”

Portrayed as the saga of three generations of the Hersland and the Dehning families, the book employs a number of Stein's early techniques of language and style and features a temporal form later known as continuous present. In the chapter “David Hersland,” one finds a lengthy, repetitive, and superfluous rhetoric, “somewhat akin to the ultramodern ‘stream of consciousness’ school”:

Some are having a delicate feeling and they are ones that can be thinking and they are ones sometimes delightfully telling something, beautifully telling something, touchingly telling something, quaintly telling something, freshly telling something and they are ones dully telling something and flatly telling something and harshly telling something and telling and telling and not telling anything and something so that someone can be saying certainly that one was thinking that other one was not knowing anything and certainly the one was knowing that that one was certain that the one was not knowing anything.

(The Making of Americans, 1925, p. 790)

Short of calling it a “linguistic murder,” “a complete esthetic miscalculation,” and “a tireless and inert repetitiveness which becomes as stupefying as it is unintelligible,” as Conrad Aiken of The New Republic did in 1934, the Literary Digest in 1926 described the saga as “diffuse accounts of the mental and soul growth of each person, and digressions to include every individual that any one of them ever met. ‘But now to make again a beginning’ is a constantly recurring phrase throughout the first hundred pages; but one can never feel sure that a start has actually been made.”

Yet not all reviews were as abrasive and unfavorable. Katherine Anne Porter of the New York Herald-Tribune Books noted in 1927, “It precedes Ulysses [by James Joyce] and Remembrance of Things Past [by Marcel Proust].” She raves about Stein's ability “to get at the roots of existing life, to create fresh life from them, give her words a stark liquid flowingness, like the murmur of the blood.”

Thereafter, Stein began to be obsessed with words of “equal value.” In her 1946 interview she said, “I was not interested in making the people real but in the essence or, as a painter would call it, value.… At this time I threw away punctuation.… it threw away this balance that I was trying to get.” She concluded that words lost their meanings towards the end of the nineteenth century. Her mission, hence, was to “recapture” their meaning and value and “act within” each word. She also believed that Americans rearranged the English language by renewing its “word structure.” This and the “idea of portraiture” occupied her work during what she called her “middle period,” which began just after she finished writing The Making of Americans in 1911 and included Tender Buttons (1914), its climax.

Four Saints in Three Acts and Other Plays

During World War I, Stein did not write much because of her relocation from Paris. After the war she found interest in the “play form” and wrote Geography and Plays (1922). Stein authored forty-seven plays between 1913 and 1920 and forty-three plays between 1920 and 1933. (Nineteen were produced in theaters in England and the United States.) Four Saints in Three Acts (1934), an opera composed by Virgil Thomson, ended this period of copious playwrighting. In her plays and skits, Stein continued to experiment with words and forms. Plot, characters, and conventional dialogue are virtually nonexistent in her plays, which comprise phrases and linguistic structures cited by different actors, coming and going. The plays try to convey the “quality” of an “abstract painting,” ignoring any conventional forms of dramatization. In Gertrude Stein (1961), Frederick J. Hoffman observes, “Stein adapts the play structure to her needs and to her conception of art. She said several times that there was something distressing about the pace of ordinary drama.” Act 4 in Ladies Voices (in Geography and Plays) reads:

  • What are ladies voices.
  • Do you mean to believe me.
  • Have you caught the sun.
  • Dear me have you caught the sun.

Stein associated playwriting with landscapes. In her lecture Plays, she comments, “I felt that if a play was exactly like a landscape then there would be no difficulty about the emotion of the person looking on at the play being behind or ahead of the play because the landscape does not have to make acquaintance.” Four Saints in Three Acts became Stein's most elaborate and probably the most successful of her “play form” works. First performed in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1934, it featured an entirely African-American cast that was chosen for their “beauty of voice, clarity of enunciation, and fine carriage.” Evidently, it became a smash. According to Joseph Wood Krutch of The Nation, Four Saints in Three Acts is a success because all its elements—the dialogue, the music, the pantomime, and the sparkling cellophane décor—go so well with one another while remaining totally irrelevant to life, logic, or common sense.” Krutch's review corresponded completely with the way Stein envisioned the opera in Plays: “I think it did almost what I wanted, it made a landscape and the movement in it was like a movement in and out with which anybody looking on can keep in time. I also wanted it to have the movement of nuns very busy and in continuous movement but placid as a landscape.”

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

After exhausting the dramatic form, Stein became involved again with the “form of narration.” While working on The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, she “made a rather interesting discovery” that “other people's words are quite different from one's own, and that they can not be the result of your internal troubles as a writer.” In writing The Autobiography, she explains, “I had recreated the point of view of somebody else. Therefore the words ran with a certain smoothness.” As part of her narrative phase, she includes Paris, France (1940), Wars I Have Seen (1945), and Everybody's Autobiography (1937). The problem of narration is tightly coupled to the sense of time; great narrations, in her opinion, are devoid of historical time. In Wars I Have Seen she describes what she saw happening under her eyes “without a great sense of time.” Her objective was to depict “an existence suspended in time.” At the time of her interview with Robert Bartlett Haas (1973), six months before her death, she was still pondering the problem of time in the form of narration.

Over the years friends urged Stein to write about her life. She always said that Toklas is the one who ought to write it, as she was a witness to it all. However, as the years went by and Toklas showed no interest, Stein decided to write an autobiography using the narrative voice of Toklas. It was written at their summer residence in Bilignin, France, during a short period of six weeks. William Bradley, a literary agent who lived in Paris and could never find a commercial outlet for Stein's work, suddenly realized The Autobiography's potential as a trade book. Additionally, he managed to sell serial rights to the Atlantic Monthly, a successful American literary magazine. The book turned into an overnight sensation. The American public became fascinated with Stein's colorful persona, with what she called the Lost Generation, and with the era of cubism and modernism. The short anecdotes, telling all in their legendarylike style, captured the imagination of a public infatuated with celebrities. Toklas's narrative voice allowed Stein to seize the center of the stage. She presented herself as a child prodigy, the favorite student of William James, the pioneer of the modernist literary genre, the one who discovered Picasso and many other artists in the art world of Paris, just to name a few.

Aside from Stein and Toklas, another major character in The Autobiography is the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. The reader learns about Picasso's financial hardship and artistic struggle during the early period of his career. Stein recalls minute details and anecdotes about Picasso; his circle of friends; and even his mistress, Fernande Olivier. Ironically, Picasso had no command of the English language, and therefore could not read The Autobiography. In Everybody's Autobiography (1937), Stein recalls an evening she and Alice spent with Picasso and his wife, Olga, after they returned to Paris. Stein offered to read from The Autobiography, which by then was quite popular. As she translated passages from the book into colloquial French, Picasso, listening attentively, corrected some details, but his wife got up and left. Apparently, Olga was offended by the frequent mentioning of Fernande Olivier, Picasso's former lover. For two years afterwards, Stein did not see Picasso again. They resumed their friendship only after Picasso separated from Olga. The immense success of the book brought in a large income. For the first time, at the age of sixty, Stein earned substantial money. The Autobiography was soon translated into French by her friend Bernard Faÿ, bringing her acclaim in France. Fame and money made her a celebrity. She was invited everywhere as she recalled later in Everybody's Autobiography, the sequel autobiography: “Everybody invited me to meet somebody, and I went. I always will go anywhere once and I rather liked doing what I had never done before, going everywhere. It was pleasant being a lion, and meeting the people who make it pleasant for you to be a lion.”

Shortly afterward, in February 1935, the Testimony against Gertrude Stein was published in Transition. This was a collection of responses to The Autobiography written by the actual artists portrayed in her anecdotes. Fuming with anger, they refuted her interpretation of the art world of Paris. Transition's editor, Eugene Jolas wrote:

These documents invalidate the claim of the Toklas-Stein memorial that Miss Stein was in any way concerned with the shaping of the epoch she attempts to describe. There is unanimity of opinion that she had no understanding of what really was happening around her, that the mutation of ideas beneath the surface of the more obvious contacts and clashes of personalities during that period escaped her entirely. Her participation in the genesis and development of such movements as Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, Transition [sic] etc. was never ideologically intimate and, as M. Matisse states, she has presented the epoch “without taste and without relation to reality.”

Eugene Jolas was joined by Henri Matisse, Tristan Tzara, Georges Braque, André Salmon, and Leo Stein, Gertrude's brother, who was left out altogether from The Autobiography.

Exegetical and Critical Writings

Stein published her philosophy of writing and explained her literary techniques in quite a number of volumes and essays: Descriptions of Literature (1926), Composition As Explanation (1926), How to Write (1931), Narration: Four Lectures (1935), and What Are Masterpieces and Why Are There So Few of Them (1935). According to Shari Benstock and other feminist scholars, Stein's language becomes tangible “if one is familiar with an essentially lesbian code.” Such critics maintain that the modernist patriarchy can only decipher heterosexual texts written by heterosexual writers. Therefore, patriarchal critics misconstrued Stein's lesbian texts. In Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900–1940 (1986), Benstock writes, “Stein's position as an alienated, misunderstood writer was due not only to her status as a woman writer in a highly patriarchal environment but also to her status as a lesbian writer.” Stein's constant quest to re-create literature was propelled by her social setting and her lesbianism. Many critics see Alice Toklas's arrival in Stein's life as a catalyst, unleashing her hidden sexuality into her writings: “In accepting Alice's love, Stein learned a new language (or rather rediscovered a language she had known in childhood) and exchanged monologue for dialogue, preaching for joking. Her writing suddenly ceased imitating the patriarchy” (Benstock, 1986, 163).

Although it was obvious to all, Stein never admitted her lesbianism publicly. In an essay in The Critical Response to Gertrude Stein (1992), Catharine R. Stimpson discusses the lesbian lie (“No lesbians here”) as part of an “unresolved problem” in feminist theory and as a source for groundbreaking style and original language. This unresolved predicament of denying lesbianism outwardly and having to live with it inwardly forced Stein to veil and disguise her sexual orientation in “an impenetrable” language, style, and to some degree, subject matter. If Stein ever wanted to be published, she had to acquire a mechanism of opaque writing, as it was not feasible to discuss homosexuality openly at the beginning of the twentieth century. This theory may also explain Stein's preoccupation with the equal value of words and equal parts of the whole. There was no right or wrong; there was no one way of loving. To justify her lesbian love as equal to heterosexual love in any respect, Stein had to restructure equality in words and meanings. She needed to re-create literature so that it would encompass and embrace a multiplicity of language and culture, manifested splendidly in her lyrical expression of lesbian sexuality, Lifting Belly. Furthermore, such critics argue, Alice's influence on Stein's writing is grossly underrated. In Alice, Stein found a critical reader, her other half, who could support and nurture her writing. Alice's role as a wife, lover, secretary, and housekeeper released Stein from all domestic responsibilities and enabled her to concentrate on her creative energy.

In her search for equal words and meanings, Stein “discovered inherent inequalities in linguistic principles that mirrored similar inequalities in the world in which she lived” (Benstock 1986, 186). These inequalities stem from the prevailing patriarchy in language and society. In her most appropriately titled poem, Patriarchal Poetry, published posthumously, she writes, “Patriarchal poetry makes no mistake makes no mistake in estimating the value to be placed upon the best and most arranged of considerations.… At a chance at a chance encounter it can be very well as appointed as appointed not only considerately but as it is use.”

Based on Stein's Arthur A Grammar, Benstock argues that Stein's linguistic pursuit centers on the relationship between the signifier and signified, the sum of which equals the term “sign.” Stein, accordingly, saw these linguistic elements as equal, but her predecessors and contemporaries alike understood the signifier (the female element) as inferior and unreliable. Unlike her modernist contemporaries, she adopted this unstable signifier as her device to upend accepted patriarchal norms in the avant-garde literary movement of the twentieth century. Even when she apparently used the patriarchal meaning of signifier and signified, she overturned them completely. For instance, she used the word “Caesars” to signify female body parts in lesbian eroticism and “cows” to imply orgasms. (“Cows are very nice. They are between legs.”) Indeed, if she were not to be published by the literary patriarchs of her time, nor to be included in their midst, she would rather re-create her own language away from patriarchy, “insisting not only that she was one of them, but that she had already outdone (and redone) their artistic efforts” (Benstock, 1986, 187).

Scholars, who comprehend Stein's language as closely related to her sexual orientation, can justify the fact that for more than sixty years the bulk of Stein's writings was elusive. Stein, they are now beginning to realize, used language as “a smoke screen,” hiding “behind the language of her fictions, as she hid behind the ‘male’ persona she created for herself in her lesbian marriage” to Toklas (Benstock, 1986, 188). Moreover, she associated her genius with the predominant patriarchal genius of her male peers: “Pablo & Matisse have a maleness that belongs to genius. Moi aussi [me too], perhaps.” This linguistic maleness pervaded her writings, particularly those she wrote after her union with Toklas. Nevertheless, despite what these scholars suggested, Stein vehemently denied any correlation between her sexual orientation and the ingenuity of her writings.

Stein's Expatriation

After the success of The Autobiography, Stein was urged by her literary agent, William Bradley, to do a lecture tour in the United States. An American lecture tour could promote a sequel autobiography and boost Stein's popularity in America. Stein was getting increasingly curious about the country she had left thirty-one years earlier but decided to travel to America only after months of deliberations: “Before I came, before I began to come, while I was still in France, I wrote about meditating upon what would come, what would happen when I came.” On 17 October 1934, Stein and Toklas embarked on the S.S. Champlain and arrived in New York Harbor seven days later. In Everybody's Autobiography, her account of the tour, Stein recounts that she would not have returned to America until she was in a position to become “a real lion a real celebrity.” Amazingly, the tour was a hit: “Reporters thronged the ship, interviewers and photographers followed her everywhere, and her fans packed auditoriums to hear her talk.”

In I Came and Here I Am, Stein describes the manner in which everything in America appeared “strange,” from “the shapes of the trucks” and the “little lights on top of the taxis” to the man-built roads and highways. It was also the first time Stein and Toklas saw the “high buildings,” which made Toklas feel “very faint.” Moreover, they were recognized everywhere and people addressed them by name. Newsreels and “talking cinema” fascinated her, as she had never seen them before. Astonished, she watched herself on film, talking and feeling so “natural.” Of all the new technology Stein was exposed to in America, she best liked the medium of broadcasting, commenting that “in writing in The Making of Americans I said I write for myself and strangers and this is what broadcasting is.” Apparently, despite Stein's constant affirmation of her American patriotism, her feelings for America were often ambivalent. In evaluating the grand lecture tour in America, she repeatedly mentions and compares France to the United States. Bluntly, she admits that

Alice Toklas wanted to come back to live there. She wanted to come back to live not everywhere but in Avila and in New York and New Orleans and California, I preferred Chicago and Texas but I did not want to come back to live there. I like Paris and I like six months in the country but I like Paris. Everybody says it is not very nice now but I like Paris and I like to live there.

Six years before the tour, Transition surveyed a number of expatriate American writers who lived in Paris. In her response to the questionnaire, Stein praises the United States as “the oldest country in the world” and “the mother of modern civilization.” But America, she adds, is somewhat behind Europe: it is “very early Victorian.” “Rich and well nourished,” America is fit to live in; yet, it is not “a place to work.” Stein's circular retort to this intruding question reinforces the reader's suspicion concerning the real reason behind Stein's expatriation. It appears that the key to understanding her response is the word “Victorian.” Indeed, several critics believe that it was Stein's sexual orientation that kept her from staying in the United States. She knew that she would not be accepted into society and would always remain marginalized as a writer. At any rate, in Paris among other lesbian artists of the Left Bank, she was neither excommunicated nor ostracized. She was one of many. She could write freely, preserving her identity and her creativity: “What has my life in America been, it has been the doing of everything that I never have done. Never have done, never could have done, never could have done again; that is the way my life in America began and is begun and is going on.” While vacationing in southern France, Gertrude Stein collapsed on 19 July 1946 and was admitted to the American Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine, where she was to be operated on. On 23 July she managed to write a will, guaranteeing Toklas's control over her estate, donating her Picasso portrait to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and her unpublished manuscripts to the Yale University Library, and entrusting her lifelong friend, Carl Van Vechten, with the funds to publish the entire corpus of her unpublished works. On 27 July, Stein died of cancer during the operation while still under sedation. Alice Toklas survived her by twenty years. Mournfully, she continued to live in Paris until her death in 1967, ensuring that Stein's will was executed to the dot. Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas are buried side-by-side in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Selected Works

Three Lives: Stories of the Good Anna, Melanctha, and the Gentle Lena (1909)Find this resource:

Geography and Plays (1922)Find this resource:

The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family's Progress (1925)Find this resource:

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933)Find this resource:

Four Saints in Three Acts: An Opera to Be Sung (1934)Find this resource:

Everybody's Autobiography (1937)Find this resource:

Things As They Are: A Novel in Three Parts (1950)Find this resource:

Further Reading

Benstock, Shari. Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900–1940. Austin, Tex., 1986. Contains a valuable analysis of Gertrude Stein's life and works.Find this resource:

Bloom, Harold, ed. Gertrude Stein. New York, 1986. Includes articles by Sherwood Anderson, Katherine Anne Porter, Thornton Wilder, Catharine R. Stimpson, and many others.Find this resource:

Bridgman, Richard. Gertrude Stein in Pieces. New York, 1970.Find this resource:

Curnutt, Kirk, ed. The Critical Response to Gertrude Stein. Critical Responses in Arts and Letters, no. 36. Westport, Conn., 2000. A collection of reviews and articles dated from 1909 to 1997.Find this resource:

Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 86, American Short-Story Writers, 1910–1945. First Series. Edited by Bobby Ellen Kimbel. Detroit, Mich., 1989.Find this resource:

Haas, Robert Bartlett, ed. A Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Gertrude Stein. Los Angeles, 1973. Excellent starting point to Stein's works. Features the famous “Transatlantic Interview 1946.”Find this resource:

Haas, Robert Bartlett, ed. How Writing Is Written: Volume II of the Previously Uncollected Writings of Gertrude Stein. Los Angeles, 1974. Includes essays on the writing of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and Stein's lecture tour in America.Find this resource:

Haas, Robert Bartlett, and Donald Clifford Gallup. A Catalogue of the Published and Unpublished Writings of Gertrude Stein. Folcroft, Pa., 1971.Find this resource:

Hoffman, Frederick J. Gertrude Stein. Pamphlets on American Writers, no. 10. Minneapolis, Minn., 1961.Find this resource:

Hoffman, Michael. Gertrude Stein. Boston, 1976. Excellent analysis of Stein's works, arranged by genre.Find this resource:

Katz, Leon. The First Making of ‘The Making of Americans’: A Study Based on Gertrude Stein's Notebooks and Early Versions of Her Novel (1902–1908). Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1963. The first work to identify the connection between Q.E.D. and Stein's affair with Bookstaver.Find this resource: