In her provocative study of Gertrude Stein, G.F. Mitrano argues that Stein's particular take on modernity has special relevance for today. Tracing what she describes as Stein's deeply modernist story of transformation from a nineteenth-century American woman to the disquieting muse of avant-garde culture portrayed in Picasso's famous portrait, Mitrano illuminates Stein's immense appetite for life, her love of thinking, and her craving for recognition. Her approach is innovative, combining the exegetical, the visual, and the theoretical, to emphasize Stein's struggle for individuality and public achievement as a profoundly historical struggle involving personal choices linked, for example, to her sexuality or the uses of her physical appearance. Stein continues to attract attention, Mitrano contends, because she anticipates many contemporary concerns, especially in the field of critical thinking: from the question of subjectivity, to the status of the writer as a laborer among many, to the meaning of fame and the private/public divide.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; The woman without qualities; Shame and the fathers: The Making of Americans; Mabel Dodge, patronage, and the velvet garment; The looks of modern culture; Picasso and paper; From song to image: Four Saints in Three Acts; The 'visitor': Lectures in America; Appendices; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
'In this moving and original work, G. F. Mitrano uses a wide range of critical, theoretical, biographical and historical sources and discourses to show us that Gertrude Stein, whom we think of as the "difficult," "hermetic," "private" writer of the most highly experimental oeuvre in English, was always engaged, from the beginning of her career, in "becoming-public." ... Mitrano demonstrates the crucial roles of Stein’s life as an art collector, of her involvement in twentieth-century aesthetic and political communities, and of her defining connection to Americanness, in producing a unique understanding of the relationship, in contemporary culture, between aesthetics and sociality. ... Mitrano’s work is important not just to Stein studies but to our current understanding of the relations among gender, aesthetics, politics, and community.' Marianne DeKoven, Rutgers University, USA 'This is a fascinating book for scholars of modern literature.Highly recommended.' Choice ’...a conscientious study [...] of value primarily to scholars of early modern art and literature who share its post-structuralist approach.’ Woman's Art Journal