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Gertrude Stein

Selections

Gertrude Stein (Author), Joan Retallack (Editor), Joan Retallack (Introduction)

Available worldwide
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Paperback, 360 pages
ISBN: 9780520248069
April 2008
$29.95, £19.95
This selection of Gertrude Stein's work is taken from the period between 1905 and 1936, when the iconic modernist poet was engaged in an astounding number of still-surprising literary experiments, whose innovations continue to influence all the arts. Editor Joan Retallack has chosen complete texts or selections that lend themselves to a clarified vision of Stein's oeuvre. In her brilliant introduction, Retallack provides the historical and biographical context for Stein's lifelong project of composing a "continuous present," an effort which parallels many of the most important technological and scientific developments of her era—from moving pictures to Einstein's revision of our understanding of space and time. Retallack also addresses persistent questions about Stein's work and the best way to read it in our contemporary moment. In suggesting a performative "reading poesis" for these works, Retallack follows Stein's dictum by arguing that to actively experience the work is to enjoy it, and to enjoy it is to understand it.
List of Abbreviations
Introduction

TEXTS
Melanctha (excerpt, from Three Lives, 1905)
The Making of Americans (excerpt, 1911)
Picasso (1911)
Flirting at the Bon Marche (1911)
Bon Marche Weather (1911)
Orta or One Dancing (excerpt, 1912)
Susie Asado (1912)
Tender Buttons: Objects, Food (1913)
Scenes from the Door (from Useful Knowledge, 1918)
Photograph (1920)
A Movie (1920)
An Elucidation (1923)
If I Told Him, A Completed Portrait of Picasso (1923)
Fourteen Anonymous Portraits (1923)
Are There Arithmetics (1923)
Business in Baltimore (1925)
Composition as Explanation (1926)
Patriarchal Poetry (excerpt, 1927)
Sentences and Paragraphs (from How to Write, 1930)
History or Messages from History (1930)
We Came. A History (1930)
Stanzas in Meditation (excerpt, 1932)
Lecture I (from Narration, 1934)
Identity a Poem (1935)
What Are Master-pieces and Why Are There So Few of Them (1936)

DOCUMENTS
“With Apologies to Gertrude Stein,” newspaper advertisement
Two love notes from Stein to Toklas (n.d.): “Dear dainty
delicious darling” and “Ir/Re/Sis/Ti /Belle”
Virgil Thomson, Letter to Gertrude Stein (May 30, 1933)
“Stein Opera Sung by All-Negro Cast,” New York Times (February 9, 1934)
Thornton Wilder, Introduction to Narration (1935)

Selected Bibliography
Acknowledgments of Permissions
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was a major literary figure at the center of a circle of expatriate writers and artists living in Paris during the early decades of the twentieth century. She is the author of Three Lives, Tender Buttons, and The Making of Americans, among other works. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was a best-seller in the United States. Joan Retallack is John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Humanities at Bard College. She is the author of many books, including Afterrimages, How To Do Things With Words, and The Poethical Wager (UC Press).
"One of the best introductions to Gertrude Stein's work I've ever read. Joan Retallack's research is thorough and impressive, and she has done an outstanding job of assembling a valuable and interesting collection of Stein's writings."—Hank Lazer, author of Lyric & Spirit

“This exquisitely edited volume of Gertrude Stein's writings is far more informative than the usual 'selected works.' Out of the immense opus that Stein produced over a long and prolific career, Joan Retallack has chosen telling pieces, so as to show both the extraordinary thematic, generic, and stylistic variety, and the coherence of her life's work. Meanwhile, Retallack's delightful and informative introduction can stand on its own as a luminous contribution to our understanding of Gertrude Stein's work and her place in literary history. The fascinating documents that end the book can be regarded as the sweet at the end of a fully satisfying and memorable experience. This is an essential book for both new and long-term discoverers of the wonder of Gertrude Stein's writings.”—Lyn Hejinian, author of The Language of Inquiry

“Retallack's illuminating introduction is a vital contribution to our knowledge of Stein, revelatory of such issues as racism while viewing Stein's presence on the page and in the ear as performative play that creates a sensual apprehension of a new time (a perception of the activity of happiness). The selections and introduction demonstrate how Stein changed reading and perceiving.”—Leslie Scalapino, author of It's go in horizontal

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