Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises : 1923-1934

Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises : 1923-1934

Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises : 1923-1934

Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises : 1923-1934

Synopsis

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, as most everyone knows, and as we might knowThe Autobiography of Alice B. Toklasor even "Patriarchal Poetry." But Gertrude Stein is far more than her best known words and works, and this monumental study gives us for the first time a finely detailed, deeply felt understanding of both the music and the mechanics of this great modernist master throughout one of her most productive periods. WithThe Language that Rises,Ulla Dydo, a reader of Stein without equal, makes apt readers of Stein of us all, and shows us why this unduly neglected and famously difficult writer merits our close attention and appreciation. Taking up all of Stein's works between the publication of "The Making of Americans" and "Lectures in America," Dydo examines the process of their making and remaking as they move from notepad to notebook to manuscript-from an idea to its ultimate refinement as the author's intentions and concerns assert themselves. Though not a biographical study,The Language the Risessets each text in the context of Stein's daily life and work, showing how the elements of her immediate world enter her writing to be enlarged upon, deleted, transformed, or combined with other elements of reading or remembering. The result is an unprecedented view of the development of Stein's work, word by word, text by text, and over time. The product of over twenty years of intense examination of Stein's notebooks, manuscripts, and letters, this book is the most extensive and detailed study of Stein's way of writing ever written, and as such, suggests answers to the fundamental questions raised by this author's brilliantly opaque works: what kind of writing was Gertrude Stein writing, and what kind of reading does this writing demand?

Excerpt

A sort of introduction to myself

—Stein to Atlantic Monthly, 15 February 1924

I am certain that so very many I am always knowing are not wanting to
completely listen to me in my explaining and many are not understanding that
they must be hearing me completely … I am full up now with knowing that
mostly those to whom I am explaining are not completely hearing

MOA 595

1. 1923
“An Elucidation”

In this chapter I am the reader of “An Elucidation,” trying to enter the black and white. I start by facing the print from outside and follow myself slowly moving into the piece. I speak in the first person of my reading as I speak in detail of her writing. I comment not only on the text but also on what it is to read this text. For Stein's work, with its apparent gap between what it says and what it is, makes me ask both what I am reading and what reading Stein is, just as she, in writing, always ponders what writing and reading are. Her printed words remain mere black and white until my reading makes the language rise from the page. As Stein incorporated the act of writing into what she was writing, I read that act in the manuscripts as a part of the creative process of the becoming of her work. At this point text and context become enmeshed and are no longer easily separated. Reading Stein involves reading both.

Toward “An Elucidation”: The Larger Context of 1923

In the nine years after 1912, when Stieglitz printed Stein's portraits of Picasso and Matisse in Camera Work, fewer than twenty short pieces by Stein appeared in print. Most were published with the help of friends who knew the editors of magazines. One book, Tender Buttons, printed by Donald Evans in 1914 at the suggestion of Carl Van Vechten, was widely ridiculed. Meanwhile, her major works remained unpublished and known only to friends: The Making Of Americans, Two, A Long Gay Book, Many Many Women, G.M.P., most early portraits, and all early plays. Between 1916 and . . .

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