by Gertrude Stein; Renate Stendhal
Genre: Award Winner; Biography
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Editor: Renate Stendhal
Format: Trade Paperback
No. of Pages: 306
No. In Series:
Award(s): Lambda Literary Award – 1994 (Lesbian Biography/Autobiography)
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After an astonishing, playful essay, the book opens into a revelatory combination of quotes, quips and 360 photos of Stein and her wildly brilliant circle. ‘–Elle From Publishers Weekly It is perhaps apt that a woman best known for such aphorisms as ‘a rose is a rose is a rose’ should be rendered in them. Stendahl has constructed a ‘photo-biography’ of the ‘Mother of Modernism’-360 photographs, 100 of which have never before been published, are interspersed with timelines and excerpts culled from Stein’s works and letters, and the words of others, including Hemingway and Harold Acton. The chapters of interest to most readers will be those focusing on the Paris years, when Stein opened her house at 27, rue des Fleurus to Fauvist and Cubist painters (Picasso, Gris and Picabia, among others) and later to the American writers of the ‘Lost Generation. ‘ Here are Cecil Beaton and Man Ray’s photographic portraits of Stein and her studio, including the throne-like chair in which she presided over her Saturday night salons, and the enviable view from the desk at which she wrote her novel Three Lives: it faced a wall upon which hung Matisse’s Le Bonheur de Vivre and Cezanne’s Portrait de Mme. Cezanne. Though there are some redundancies, Stendahl has put together an impressive book on an impressive woman, about whom she rightly observes, ‘In the context of [today’s] performance art and new forms of writing, Stein’s work seems less and less alien. If we were to see her today. . . dressed in her army coat and leopard hat, how seamlessly she would fit into the contemporary artists’ scene. ‘ Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Library Journal This pictorial biography of Stein, originally published in Switzerland in 1989, contains 360 photographs (100 previously unpublished) depicting Stein and Alice B. Toklas, their artist and writer cohorts, and views of relevant locales. Stendhal provides an undemanding introduction, with biographical and literary information as well as some interesting thoughts on reading and understanding Stein. A fairly detailed chronology prefaces each chapter, and each photograph has an applicable quotation extracted from the work of Stein and others. In assembling this work, Stendhal has drawn heavily on Everybody’s Autobiography and the Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas as well as diaries and writings by family members and peers. Snapped by the likes of Man Ray, Cecil Beaton, and Carl Van Vechten, the images visually document an unconventional and photogenic life and, even without the quotations, have power of their own. Recommended for literature, art history, and women’s studies collections. Janice Braun, Hoover Inst. Lib. , Stanford, Cal. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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