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Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein photographed by Carl Van Vechten in January 1935. (Van Vechten Collection at Library of Congress; public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Major works:
Q.E.D.Three LivesTender ButtonsThe Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

“It excited me as one might grow excited in going in a new and wonderful country where everything is strange—a sort of Lewis and Clark expedition for me. Here words laid before me as the painter had laid the color pans on the table in my presence. My mind did a kind of jerking flop and after Miss Stein’s book had come into my hands I spent days going about with a tablet of paper in my pocket and making new and strange combinations of words. . . . Perhaps it was then I really fell in love with words, wanted to give each word I used every chance to show itself at its best.”
—Sherwood Anderson on Tender Buttons

“These austere ‘stanzas’ are made up almost entirely of colorless connecting words such as ‘where,’ ‘which,’ ‘these,’ ‘of,’ ‘not,’ ‘have,’ ‘about,’ and so on, though now and then Miss Stein throws in an orange, a lilac, or an Albert to remind us that it really is the world, our world, that she has been talking about. The result is like certain monochrome de Kooning paintings in which isolated strokes of color take on a deliciousness they never could have had out of context, or a piece of music by Webern in which a single note on the celesta suddenly irrigates a whole desert of dry, scratchy sounds in the strings.”
—John Ashbery on Stanzas in Meditation

Read an excerpt from

The World Is Round

Gertrude Stein

Rose did go on smelling and breathing and pushing and shoving and rolling, she sometimes just rolled, and moving. Anything on a mountain side is moving, rocks are rolling, stones are turning, twigs are hitting, trees are growing, flowers are showing and animals are glowing that is their eyes are and everywhere there oh dear everywhere there well Rose was there and so was her chair.
How many minutes go around to make a second how many hours go round to make a minute how many days go around to make an hour how many nights go round to make a day and was Rose found. She never had been lost and so how could she be found even if everything did go around and around.

Read a passage from The World Is Round by Gertrude Stein
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