dimanche 3 février 2013

Gertrude Stein: A Composite Portrait (1974), Gertrude Stein Remembered (1994)

Let’s play a literary guessing game. The clues go from hardest to easiest. Ten points if you get it on the first go (you won’t). Guess who this couple is...
  1. One is a “rhomboidal woman”, the other is a “deciduous female”.
  2. The first one looks like a “great pyramidal Buddha”, the other, a “sleepy vulture”.
  3. A is an “Easter Island idol”, B is a “gypsy”;
  4. The dominant one looks like a “caesar” and has the “assurance of Cleopatra”, the one in a supporting role is a “swarthy-faced shrew with a furry mustache”.
  5. The writer penned “a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”, the cook is best known for her hash brownie recipe.
You guessed it — Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas.
Linda Simon has edited two excellent collections of reminiscences by people who knew the couple personally. They’re an entertaining read, mixing academic seriousness (is Gertrude an “eccentric innovator with no inheritors”) with plain, friendly gossip. Any student of modernism, American expats in the first half of the twentieth century or any traveler going to Paris today will enjoy these two books.

Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society, Yale University

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