Talk:Gertrude Stein

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 Definition American author (1874 - 1946) who lived in Paris, France, and is best remembered for creating deliberate linguistic conundrums. [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories Literature, History and Linguistics [Editors asked to check categories]
 Talk Archive none  English language variant American English

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Anyone wanting to know about Gertrude Stein's childhood, education, or what she liked for dinner, is welcome to hop over to Wikipedia and find it out there. They'll also have a list of the famous writers and artists who attended her salon, and fill you in on her personal life, including her sexual orientation (as if that has anything to do with anything literary). But I have focused here on the widespread difficulty people have in reading Stein: they simply don't know what to make of what she wrote. This phenomenon is so strong that even English literature majors in college have often never been required to read a single work by Stein. Stein is the most talked about and least read writer in the English language, a very curious phenomenon, and the reasons for that deserve looking at.

I think this article does need to include some of the other famous quotes attributed to Stein, including "Rose is a rose is a rose". And so it's not done yet. And anyone is welcome to contribute to the article or comment here. Just don't let's duplicate what already exists in Wikipedia. I could read that entire article in Wikipedia without even getting a clue about why she is important in English literature. If indeed she is.Pat Palmer (talk) 03:24, 30 October 2020 (UTC)

Since writing the above, the article's focus has shifted to the quotes and their use without specific source citations, out of context, and often misunderstood. And also to clarify briefly that, despite the difficulty in reading her works, she does seem to have been a very original thinker who wanted to shatter people out of the complacency, especially regarding language, and perhaps even, to prove the inefficacy of language as a reliable means of communication for most people.Pat Palmer (talk) 18:52, 7 February 2021 (UTC)
An update: I am in the process of obtaining and reading as many of the Stein writings as I can get hold of. I am finding Stein interesting to read, but not easy. And I've learned more about her life. She was from an affluent background, received a top-rate education (Radcliffe) and never had to work for a living (her father left investments, managed by her brother, which supported her). Apparently, she was charismatic in person, and she made a point of cultivating powerful and important friends, including being able to live during WW II in France (as a Jew) without being incarcerated (it is believed she had an influential Nazi friend who took care that they were left alone--and also, they moved out of Paris during the war, into the countryside). Some of her fame and success was the result of having access to, and having cultivated, the "right" persons--advantages which the majority of people fully lack. Nevertheless, she has proved to be an original and deep thinker. As a literary figure, though, her writing (much of which was experimental and very unorthodox) is still very difficult. I think she was extraordinarily smart and will continue to be important because of some of her ideas, but I'm not sure her importance is as a writer per se--though those catchy phrases aren't going to go away. If I were teaching English Literature, I would probably include something about her in the curriculum--but her work simply could not be assigned reading like everything else--students would get little from it without some context. So I consider her legacy to be problematic in a strictly literary sense.Pat Palmer (talk) 17:55, 28 February 2021 (UTC)

Mulling the treatment of "personal opinions"

A user just today cited some of this article as being "personal opinion", which it probably is, and I am considering whether or how to change it. In the meantime, since this is a signed article, I have restored the deleted sections while I am thinking about how they might be modified but still (possibly) provide useful information. My thanks to Pradyumna Singh for having read through the article and left feedback. Pat Palmer (talk) 19:13, 5 February 2021 (UTC)

I think it's reasonable to claim that Four in America is Stein's least famous work. It is virtually unknown and difficult to find, and almost unreadable when found (as noted in the article), but it's introduction by playwrite Thornton Wilder is a true gem. Also, it does contain that one frequently misquoted line about Grant and tears! However, I am working on the verbiage around this section to try and make it less objectionable and more objective. Suggestions welcome here.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:23, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
FYI, This is not a signed article [1]. Pradyumna Singh (talk) 19:40, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
You are technically correct. Thanks for that. However, I am identified on the article as the lead author. I was confused about what a signed article is. I'll look into this more.Pat Palmer (talk) 20:06, 5 February 2021 (UTC)

as yet uncited phrases to be added to quotes section if exact source can be located

I'll try to find the citation for the following first:Pat Palmer (talk) 18:36, 11 February 2021 (UTC)

From Everybody's Autobiography, Ch. II, page 75, by Gertrude Stein (1937). |}

It takes a heap of loafing to write a book.

From ?, page ?, by Gertrude Stein (19??).

An audience is always warming but it must never be necessary to your work.

From ?, page ?, by Gertrude Stein (19??).

A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears.

From ?, page ?, by Gertrude Stein (19??).

There ain't no answer.
There ain't gonna be any answer.
There never has been an answer.
There's your answer.

From ?, page ?, by Gertrude Stein (19??).

  • I just tell you and though I dont sound like it I've got plenty of sense, there aint any answer, there aint going to be any answer, there never has been any answer, that’s the answer.
    • Brewsie and Willie (1946), Ch. 7

only important difference between men and animals

In more than one place, Stein insisted that "money" was the only difference between "men" and "animals". I'd like to work it into the article eventually. Here's one place that she discussed money and mentioned the contrast with animals:

About every once in so often there is a movement to do away with money. Roosevelt tries to spend so much that perhaps money will not exist, communists try to live without money but it never lasts because if you live without money you have to do as the animals do live on what you find each day and that is just the difference the minute you do not do that you have to have money and so everybody has to make up their mind if money is money or if money isn't money and sooner or later they always do decide that money is money.

- p 49 or so, G. Stein 'Everybody's Autobiography'

Pat Palmer (talk) 18:36, 11 February 2021 (UTC)

Stein considered Robert E. Lee "weak" and not a hero

This may also get worked into the article: I'm still reading Gertrude Stein's 'Everybody's Autobiography' (1937), much of which is a travelogue of her tour of the U. S. in the early 1930's. She noticed there were a lot of Lee statues in Virginia especially, but all around the southern states also. Stein declared that Robert E. Lee was (in her view) likely "weak" and one not to be considered a hero, because she believed he knew the South could not win the civil war in the long run but he was too cowardly to admit it to others, thus allowing many more people to be killed in the civil war than was necessary. [p 300 or so, G. Stein "Everybody's Autobiography"; see also p 302 on the right]. The astonishing thing is to find this view expressed by a white woman (admittedly a "Northerner") during a most racist period in American history, when the popularity of Robert E. Lee in localities of the South was at its apex.

Now, in 2020 and 2021, localities are finally beginning to remove the many REL statues that have long been an affront to people of color.Pat Palmer (talk) 18:33, 11 February 2021 (UTC)

Stein on science: it is "only abjectly true"

Another quote that may belong in the article somewhere:

William James came that is I came to him and he said science is not a solution and not a problem it is a statement of the observation of things observed and perhaps therefore not interesting perhaps therefore only abjectly true.

-- G. Stein, "Everybody's Autobiography", Ch. , p 294

Pat Palmer (talk) 18:36, 11 February 2021 (UTC)