Gertrude Stein


Gertrude Stein (1874–1946)
The Woman Who Made Hemingway Uncomfortable

In her words: “A masterpiece may be unwelcome, but it will never be dull.”

In others’ words: “It is well known that Stein’s writing is difficult to penetrate for the average reader, and this has been attributed to the idea that if she wrote clearly about homosexuality she would lose her ability to be published.”

Bio: Stein was an American art collector, publisher, author, poet, playwright, journalist, and memoirist who employed the techniques of abstraction and Cubism in prose. She moved to Paris with her brother and soon met Alice B. Toklas, who would immediately become her assistant and long-term companion/partner/lover. Together, they hosted a dazzling array of the famous, the ambitious, the wealthy and the curious at their Paris home for salons and lively debates. The guest list included Ernest Hemingway, Carl Van Vechten, T.S. Eliot, Alfred North Whitehead, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thornton Wilder, Picasso, Matisse, Gris, Braque, Virgil Thomson, Charles Chaplin, Sherwood Anderson, Glenway Wescott, Paul Robeson, Jo Davidson, Pavel Tchelichev, Ford Maddox Ford, Sinclair Leis, Ezra Pound, and Richard Wright, to name some. Stein is credited with coining the phrase “the lost generation” to describe the expatriate writers living abroad between the wars. Her own writing was often characterized by its use of words for their associations and sounds rather than their meanings, showing the profound effect modern painting had on her writing. Stein wrote some of the seminal books on lesbian love and lesbian sexuality as well as theatrical prose, which for avant-garde theatre artists from the United States, has formed something of a rite of passage.