Quotes by Gertrude Stein
The whole duty of man consists in being reasonable and just... I am reasonable because I know the difference between understanding and not understanding and I am just because I have no opinion about things I don’t understand.
It is always a mistake to be plain-spoken.
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.
No sense in no sense innocence of what of not and what of delight. In no sense innocence in no sense and what in delight and not, in no sense innocence in no sense no sense what, in no sense and delight, and in no sense and delight and not in no sense and delight and not, no sense in no sense innocence and delight.
It is awfully important to know what is and what is not your business.
From the very nature of progress, all ages must be transitional. If they were not, the world would be at a stand-still and death would speedily ensue. It is one of the tamest of platitudes but it is always introduced by a flourish of trumpets.
Before the flowers of friendship faded friendship faded.
Communists are people who fancied that they had an unhappy childhood.
The deepest thing in any one is the conviction of the bad luck that follows boasting.
All the world knows how to cry but not all the world knows how to sigh. Sighing is extra.
A beauty is not suddenly in a circle. It comes with rapture. A great deal of beauty is rapture. A circle is a necessity. Otherwise you would see no one. We each have our circle.
We are always the same age inside.
I've been rich and I've been poor. It's better to be rich.
All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation... You have no respect for anything. You drink yourselves to death.
Ladies there is no neutral position for us to assume.
It bothers a lot of people‚ but like you said‚ it's nobody's business‚ it came from the Judeo-Christian ethos‚ especially Paul of Tarsus the bastard‚ but he was complaining about youngsters who were not really that way‚ they did it for money‚ everybody suspects us or knows but nobody says anything about it.
Do you know because I tell you so, or do you know, do you know.
Let me recite what history teaches. History teaches.
Argument is to me the air I breathe. Given any proposition, I cannot help believing the other side and defending it.
Human nature, human nature acts as it acts when it is identified when there is an identity but it is not human nature that has anything to do with that it is that anybody is there where they are, it is that that has to do with identity, with government and propaganda with history with individualism and with communism but it has nothing nothing to do with the human mind ... because the human mind writes what there is and what has identity go to do with that ... nothing at all.
One does not get better but different and older and that is always a pleasure.
Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
Let me listen to me and not to them
May I be very well and happy
May I be whichever they can thrive
Or just may they not.
They do not think not only only
But always with prefer
And therefore I like what is mine
For which not only willing but willingly
Because which it matters. They find it one in union.
In union there is strength.
When I sleep I sleep and do not dream because it is as well that I am what I seem when I am in my bed and dream.
Gertrude Stein's Biography
American writer‚ an eccentric whose Paris home was a salon for the Cubist and experimental artist and writers‚ among them Pablo Picasso‚ Henri Matisse‚ Georges Braque‚ Juan Gris‚ F. Scott Fitzgerald‚ Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway. Stein‚ a brilliant conversationalist‚ became a legend with her Roman senator haircut and verbal facility. Against all odds‚ she survived the persecution of sexual minorities and Jews during the German occupation of France in World War II.

Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny‚ Pennsylvania‚ of educated German-Jewish immigrants. Her father‚ Daniel Stein‚ was a traction-company executive‚ who had become wealthy through his investments in street railroads and real estate. His business took the family for four years to Vienna and Paris‚ when Stein was a child. In 1879 the family returned to America. With her parents‚ she made subsequently several cultural trips to Europe. After the death of her mother and father‚ Stein and two of her siblings lived with her mother's family in Baltimore.

In 1893 Stein entered Harvard Annex (now Radcliffe College) in Cambridge. She studied psychology under William James (1842-1910) and experimented with automatic writing under his direction. James also visited Stein in Paris in 1908. After studies at Johns Hopkins medical school‚ where she specialized in brain anatomy‚ Gertrude Stein moved to Paris‚ without taking the M.D. degree. She lived there from 1903 with her brother Leo‚ and from 1914 with her life companion‚ Alice B. Toklas‚ an accomplished cook for the salon's guests at the 27 Rue de Fleurus flat‚ near Luxembourg Gardens. Her salon attracted intellectuals and artists to discuss new ideas in art and politics. In the atmosphere of creative energy‚ Stein wanted to produce modern literary version of the new art. In addition‚ she and her brother started to collect early works by such contemporary painters as Matisse and Picasso‚ who later described her as his only woman friend. Picasso met her first time at an informal art gallery established by Clovis Sagot‚ a former clown. He also painted a portrait of Stein in a brownish-gray monochrome. "Masculine‚ in her voice‚ in all her walk‚" described Picasso's lover Fernande Bellevallée her. "Fat‚ short‚ massive‚ beautiful head‚ strong‚ with noble features‚ accentuated regular‚ intelligent eyes."

Stein's first novel‚ Q.E.D. (1903)‚ remained unpublished until after her death-perhaps because of its intimate‚ lesbian nature. As a writer Stein made her debut with THREE LIVES (1909)‚ clearly influenced by the Jameses‚ novelist Henry and psychologist William. Stein's book was based on a reworking of a late Flaubert text called Trois Contes. Stein also tried to connect theories of Cubism to literature‚ as in the essay COMPOSITION AS EXPLANATION (1926)‚ which was based on her lectures at Cambridge and Oxford. After differences emerged between the Cubists and the post-Impressionists‚ Stein sided with the former while her brother Leo championed the latter. Leo‚ who was left on the shadow of his sister‚ once bursted: "She's basically stupid and I'm basically intelligent." In her book about Picasso (1938) Stein recalled that in 1909 the artist showed her some photographs of a Spanish village to demonstrate how Cubist in reality they appeared. According to Stein‚ Picasso's paintings‚ such as 'Horta de Ebro' and 'Maison sur la colline' were almost exactly like the photographs.

Her modernist literary style Stein lauched with THE MAKING OF AMERICANS‚ a family history and history of whole humanity. It was written between 1906 and 1908 but not published until 1925. Stein tried to translate in it Cubism's abstraction and disruption of perspective into a prose form and present an object or an experience from every angle simultaneously. The effect was reinforced by minimal use of punctuation-"... if writing should go on what had colons and semi-colons to do with it‚ what had commas to do with it" (from 'Poetry and Grammar'‚ in Lectures in America‚ 1935). As a result‚ her sentences grew longer and longer. Automatic writing‚ a technique favored by the Dadaists and Surrealists‚ also inspired her.

From the United States Stein's friend Mabel Dodge wrote in 1912 with enthusiasm about the Armory Show‚ calling it "the most important public event that has ever come off since the signing of the Declaration of Independence". The show opened in February 1913 and presented to the American public modern‚ revolutionary art from post-Impressionism to Cubism and Matisse. One of its most notorious exhibits was Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase. Dodge's article‚ which compared Stein's writing to Picasso's Cubism‚ appeared in the magazine Art and Decoration. Although Stein met Dodge only a few times‚ their correspondence lasted over 20 years.

The poetry collection TENDER BUTTONS (1914) was a series of still live studies‚ such as 'A Chair'‚ 'A Box'‚ 'Roastbeef'‚ 'End of Summer' and 'Apple'. Each of these is characterized by unexpected phrases. Her aim was to search ways to name things‚ "that would not invent names‚ but mean names without naming them." Thus 'Apple' reads "Apple plum‚ carpet steak‚ seed clam‚ coloured wine‚ calm seen‚ cold cream‚ best shake‚ potato and no gold work with pet‚ a green seen is called bake and change sweet is bready‚ a little piece please."

When England declared war on Germany‚ Stein was visiting the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead in England‚ with her lover Toklas. After a brief trip to Majorca in 1915‚ they returned to Paris‚ joining the American Fund For French Wounded. She and Toklas received the French government's Medaille de la Reconnaissance Française in 1922. After the war Paris gained fame as a city of "the lost generation"‚ and replaced Vienna as the cultural center of avant-garde art‚ music and literature.

'Miss Furr and Miss Skeene'‚ originally published in GEOGRAPHY AND PLAYS (1922)‚ told of two women who live together. Within deliberately limited lexicon‚ Stein played with the meaning of the word "gay"‚ but its underground meaning became more widely known when Vanity Fair reprinted the story in 1923.

In 1934 Stein travelled to New York. Her opera about Spanish saints‚ FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS‚ music composed by Virgil Thomson‚ had a huge success with an all-black cast on Broadway. The opera run for sixty performances. Originally Thomson did not conceive the score with black performers in mind‚ but after seeing Jimmy Daniels perform at a Harlem club‚ the matter was settled. The procection was co-ordinated by John Houseman‚ who later cooperated with Orson Welles. Thomson's second opera‚ THE MOTHER OF US ALL (1947)‚ was also based on Stein's text. Stein toured America‚ taught for several weeks at the University of Chicago‚ became a lifelong friend of Thornton Wilder‚ returned to France next year. In 'Poetry and Grammar'‚ originally one of the lectures she gave‚ Stein published her most famous statement: "A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose."

A kind of right-wing anarchist‚ Stein hated Roosevelt and the New Deal. When many American writers and artists "went Left"‚ Stein did not take a stand against the Nazi menace in her writings‚ but suggested to the Nobel committee that the Peace Prize should be given to Adolf Hitler. The proposal was rejected. In the thirties and forties she was a close friend of the collaborationist Bernard Faÿ‚ the director of the Bibliothèque national. Toklas and Stein were both Jews‚ but they remained in France during World War II‚ living under the protection of Pétain in various country houses. Mainly interested in the indivudual‚ Stein advocated in her war writings renewing American individuality. "America is my country and Paris is my home town and it is as it has come to be‚" Stein had once said. "After all anybody is as their land and air is. Anybody is as the sky is low or high‚ the air heavy or clean and anybody is as there is wind or no wind there. It is that which makes them and the arts they make and the work they do and the way they eat and the way they drink and the way they learn and everything" (from 'An American and France‚' 1936). In December 1944 she returned to Paris. Faÿ‚ who helped them to survive the occupation‚ was sentenced after the war to life imprisonment at hard labor. Stein and Toklas campaigned for his release.

Stein's best known work‚ THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALICE B. TOKLAS‚ is actually her own autobiography. Her later memoirs were EVERYBODY'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY (1937) and WARS I HAVE SEEN (1945). The last years of her live Stein suffered from cancer. She died on 27 July 1946 at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine‚ France. Toklas was at the bedside; she lived on until 1967. Her memoirs‚ What is Remembered‚ appeared in 1963. Although Stein's works were highly modernistic and experimental‚ she also had a strong influence on such popular writer as Ernest Hemingway‚ who combined her use of repetitive patterns with vernacular speech.
Some rights reserved Petri Liukkonen (author) & Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken kaupunginkirjasto 2008

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