Stein's own innovative writing emphasizes the sounds and rhythms rather than the sense of words. By departing from conventional meaning, grammar, and syntax, she attempted to capture "moments of consciousness," independent of time and memory. Her first published work was Three Lives (completed 1905, pub. 1909), short stories in which she explored the mental processes of three women, but her most characteristic and probably most difficult narrative is the lengthy, dark, dense, and repetitive The Making of Americans (completed 1911, pub. 1925). The famous Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), a linear narrative written in relatively ordinary language, is the story of her own life presented as that of her companion. Stein's critical essays were published as Composition as Explanation (1926), How to Write (1931), Narration (1935), and Lectures in America (1935). Her many other works include the volume of poetry Tender Buttons (1914), a series of "cubist" verbal portraits; two librettos for the operas of Virgil Thomson, Four Saints in Three Acts (1934) and The Mother of Us All (1947); Wars I Have Seen (1945), some personal observations; and Brewsie and Willie (1946), about American soldiers in France.
See biographies by J. M. Brinnin (1959, repr. 1987) and J. Hobhouse (1975); D. Souhami, Gertrude and Alice (1992); B. Kellner, ed., A Gertrude Stein Companion (1988); A. B. Toklas, What Is Remembered (1963, repr. 1985); J. R. Mellow, Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein & Company (1974, repr. 1991); L. Simon, ed., Gertrude Stein Remembered (1994); B. Wineapple, Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein (1996); J. Malcolm, Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice (2007); studies by R. Dubnick (1984), J. L. Walker (1984), and U. E. Dydo (2003); bibliography by R. A. Wilson and A. Uphill (1999).
(born Feb. 3, 1874, Allegheny City, Pa., U.S.—died July 27, 1946, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) U.S. avant-garde writer. Born to a wealthy family, Stein studied at Radcliffe College before moving to Paris, where from 1909 she lived with her companion Alice B. Toklas (1877–1967). Their home was a salon for leading artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Sherwood Anderson, and Ernest Hemingway. An early supporter of Cubism, she tried to parallel its theories in her work, including the poetry volume Tender Buttons (1914). Her prose was characterized by a unique style employing repetition, fragmentation, and use of the continuous present, especially in the immense novel The Making of Americans (written 1906–11, published 1928). Her only book to reach a wide public was The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), actually Stein's own autobiography. Her other works include Four Saints in Three Acts (1934) and The Mother of Us All (1947), opera librettos scored by Virgil Thomson.
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