Author: Gertrude Stein
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication Date: 20 June 2023
Format: eBook - PDF
Source: ARC via NetGalley
A gorgeous new collection featuring 26 of Gertrude Stein's most enrapturing and essential short writings--a carefully curated, accessible entry point into her best and most joyful works
Between the French-flapped covers of this elegant paperback collection, readers will rediscover Gertrude Stein as the bearer of a joyfully radical literary vision. A bold experimenter, her writing sparks with vitality, relishing in rhythm, repetition, sound and colour in its central vision: to prise apart language and association and find thrilling new ways to express the true essence of her subject with charming joie de vivre.
Stein considered her shorter writings to be the truest expressions of her enrapturing style. Her fascination with people and personalities can be located in expressive portraits of close friends Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Cezanne, Jean Cocteau, and Juan Gris, whilst her decades-long relationship with Alice B. Toklas is immortalised with shimmering eroticism. There are also playful meditations on her unique writing process, conveying her serious delight in meddling with conventions of grammar and composition.
Although I naturally knew of Gertrude Stein, until picking up this book I had never read any of her writings, remembering her more as the figure around whom other famous writers and artists gathered. As it turns out from reading this book, that reputation was something she hated, wishing she could be recognised for her own works instead. However, having now read some of her pieces in Every Day is To-Day, I can understand why her wish didn't come true. At university I read Joyce's Ulysses without a single issue, so I am not someone cowed by hard-to-read books, but even I struggled with Stein's prose. The repetition irked me (and it was continuous) and I was frequently rereading sentences multiples times and still struggling to make sense of them. Some pieces I followed better than others, and generally I enjoyed those more, but overall I can't say I loved reading these shorts. Her prose is most definitely an acquired taste and not one that suited my usually eclectic palate. I am glad I read this book to finally dip into Stein's literary works, but having done so, I now know they are not for me. As such I am giving this book three stars; however, those with more modernist tastes in prose may well find it interesting and it is a nicely curated collection.
I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.