The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas eBook – Mariahilff.de

This book captures the heart of 20th century Paris, and chronicles the city before and after the first world war Stein ran an artistic hub from her house and around her formed an important circle of writers, artists and thinkers She met Picasso, Hemingway and Fitzgerald She spoke to Ezra Pound and exchanged letters with T.S Eliot She supported artists in Paris and bought their paintings when they were first starting out All in all, she was a purveyor and supporter of the arts She was also This book captures the heart of 20th century Paris, and chronicles the city before and after the first world war Stein ran an artistic hub from her house and around her formed an important circle of writers, artists and thinkers She met Picasso, Hemingway and Fitzgerald She spoke to Ezra Pound and exchanged letters with T.S Eliot She supported artists in Paris and bought their paintings when they were first starting out All in all, she was a purveyor and supporter of the arts She was also a lesbian, living with Alice Toklas who spoke to the wives of the important men Stein met So this was written by Stein under the guise of her friend and lover Stein expresses friendship very strongly Her friends clearly meant a lot too her, and she influenced them as much as they influenced her She had a constant exchange of ideas with people Gertrude Stein, by Pablo Picasso 1906 Other than that, it s a bit dull Stein advocates for the beauty of writing, for creating artistic sentences and prose yet, for all that, she has little to know skill at doing so Her sentences are endless pieces of ordinariness There s no skill involved in them At one point she mentions one as being particularly good, but there is nothing to it It s noskilful than I m writing here I m not sure what she is reading in her own work, but I certainly cannot see it Read a page of Woolf then a page of Stein and you will see precisely what I mean There s nothing in her words except endless repetition about her own books It s like she was taking very opportunity to sell me one of them, irrelevant for sure to the motives behind an autobiography I ve also read Paris, France and had a similar reaction to the dull nature of the writing It s a bit better, only because it s in the first person, but it has none of the skill the writer professes it contains I don t think I will ever try one of her other books There s no passion in her words As I said, the value of this book is with the image it creates of a modern France And if you re interested in 20th century Europe it s certainly something you should read along with Hemingway sA Movable Feast.I found myself skimming sections, so I was quite glad to finally finish it It s a curiosity, though a bit of a trudge During my Modern Poetry class in college, we read some of Tender Buttons prompting me to write a scathing review of it, which was promptly trolled and my professor explained Gertrude Stein thus Gertrude Stein believed that there was only one great poet of the twentieth century, and it was her She might admit that Shakespeare was talented as well, but only on a good day Having now read The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas, I fully support this assessment of Miss Stein Not that I dislike h During my Modern Poetry class in college, we read some of Tender Buttons prompting me to write a scathing review of it, which was promptly trolled and my professor explained Gertrude Stein thus Gertrude Stein believed that there was only one great poet of the twentieth century, and it was her She might admit that Shakespeare was talented as well, but only on a good day Having now read The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas, I fully support this assessment of Miss Stein Not that I dislike her in fact, I find Gertrude Stein to be a fascinating person and I like everything I ve heard about her I just Cannot stand Her writing Based on the description, this book should be amazing Stein, writing as her companion Alice Toklas, describes how they came to live in Paris, World War One, and the various artists and writers who visited their famous salon at 27 Rue de Fleurus Hemingway is here, as is Picasso, TS Eliot, Max Jacob, Henri Matisse, George Braques, and countless others A story about all of these people living and working and making art together in Paris in the early 20th century should be incredible, right Wrong The main problem is that Alice B Toklas isn t a very good narrator Rather than dishing out the dirt on these famous men and women as Hemingway did in A Moveable Feast , she chooses instead to just rattle off the names of people who visited her and Gertrude Stein, sprinkled with little anecdotes that are either boring despite themselves according to this book, World War One really wasn t so bad at all, and Toklas spends the most time telling us how hard it was to go on vacation during the war because she had trouble with her passport , or are just plain boring Glenway left behind him a silk cigarette case with his initials, we kept it until he came back again and then gave it to him Hemingway s snippy gossip may not have been true, but at least it was entertaining Also there s the fact that Toklas always remains on the fringe of this great group Stein is right in the middle of it, helping Hemingway with his writing and discussing punctuation with TS Eliot, but Toklas freely admits that she isn t an artist, and always keeps herself apart The genuises came and talked to Gertrude Stein and the wives sat with me How they unroll, an endless vista through the years I began with Fernande and then there was Madame Matisse and Marcelle Braque and Josette Gris and Eve Picasso and Bridget Gibb and Marjory Gibb and Hadley and Pauline Hemingway and Mrs Sherwood Anderson and Mrs Bravig Imbs and the Mrs Ford Maddox Ford and endless others, genuises, near geniuses, and might be geniuses, all having wives, and I have sat and talked with them all all the wives and later on, well later on too, I have sat and talked with all For God s sake It s like if Diane Keaton s character from The Godfather wrote a book about her experiences with the mob She was there for some of it, and she saw everybody who was important, but then the door slams shut in her face at the end and we realize that she doesn t really know anything at all, and won t ever know Pablo Picasso Henri Matisse Ernest Hemingway F Scott Fitzgerald Sherwood Anderson T S Eliot Djuna Barnes Ezra Pound Georges Braque Ford Madox Ford Jean Cocteau All of these artists and writers were bumping into each other in Paris in the 1920s, often at Gertrude Stein s apartment, the famous salon at 27 rue de Fleurus And if you re wondering who the hell Alice B Toklas is, she was Stein s longtime partner and lover, and calling it an autobiography but yet it was written by Stein Pablo Picasso Henri Matisse Ernest Hemingway F Scott Fitzgerald Sherwood Anderson T S Eliot Djuna Barnes Ezra Pound Georges Braque Ford Madox Ford Jean Cocteau All of these artists and writers were bumping into each other in Paris in the 1920s, often at Gertrude Stein s apartment, the famous salon at 27 rue de Fleurus And if you re wondering who the hell Alice B Toklas is, she was Stein s longtime partner and lover, and calling it an autobiography but yet it was written by Stein was Stein s idea of a joke I ll be honest and say I was keen to read this book because I had hoped for some delicious gossip about these famous people, and while there were some good stories, Stein s writing wasdifficult to read than I expected This was my first Stein book, and I would describe her style as a conversational stream of consciousness that frequently turns into babble.Here is a good example of her style This was the year 1907 Gertrude Stein was just seeing through the press Three Lives which she was having privately printed, and she was deep in The Making of Americans, her thousand page book Picasso had just finished his portrait of her which nobody at that time liked except the painter and the painted and which is now so famous, and he had just begun his strange complicated picture of three women, Matisse had just finished his Bonheur de Vivre, his first big composition which gave him the name of fauve or a zoo It was the moment Max Jacob has since called the heroic age of cubism I remember not long ago hearing Picasso and Gertrude Stein talking about various things that had happened at the time, one of them said but all that could not have happened in that one year, oh said the other, my dear you forget we were young then and we did a great deal in a year There are a great many things to tell of what was happening then and what had happened before, which led up to then, but now I must describe what I saw when I came I did not change anything about that quote you get a sense of Stein s run on sentences and her laissez faire punctuation Often when I was reading this book I felt as if I was listening to a confused storyteller, someone who just kept talking and talking and rambling and trying to convey a message, but that they themselves had forgotten what the message was There were some nice quotes and turns of phrase, such as Stein was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, of a very respectable middle class family She always says that she is very grateful not to have been born of an intellectual family, she has a horror of what she calls intellectual people But I had to slog through quite a few pages before I found a quote worth marking.So, why would someone read this book Maybe you would be brought to it, as I was, by the Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris, which had scenes that were inspired by this memoir Or maybe you want to hearabout Picasso and Matisse and Hemingway, which were my favorite parts of the book Maybe you want to read about Paris during World War I, and how empty of men the world had seemed then.For me, I m still fascinated by the Lost Generation and will readHemingway and Fitzgerald because I didn t fully appreciate them when I was younger , but I may have had my fill of Stein for now Hold your forefinger and thumb approximately an inch apart That was how much I knew about Gertrude Stein prior to reading The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas I m certainly no expert now, not even close, but I can safely say that I am completely enad of both Stein and her life partner, Toklas No, it s not because of the near constant stream of visiting artists and other members of Parisian society to their home at rue de Fleurus in the early 1900s, though that was impressive They were ve Hold your forefinger and thumb approximately an inch apart That was how much I knew about Gertrude Stein prior to reading The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas I m certainly no expert now, not even close, but I can safely say that I am completely enad of both Stein and her life partner, Toklas No, it s not because of the near constant stream of visiting artists and other members of Parisian society to their home at rue de Fleurus in the early 1900s, though that was impressive They were very friendly with Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Guillaume Apollinaire They saw Isadora Duncan dance They knew Sherwood Anderson, Jean Cocteau, and Ernest Hemingway, which was one of the most humorous relationships in the whole book They made the acquaintance of T.S Eliot he and Stein quarreled over split infinitives isn t that great , Henry James, F Scott Fitzgerald, and late in the book, Paul Bowles And those are just most of the people I have heard of.No, it s not because they volunteered for the American Fund for the French Wounded during World War I, though that was noble They distributed clothing and other goods to soldiers and people that were wounded or displaced by the war I mostly loved the camaraderie between these two charming women I loved the idea that Stein wrote the book in the style of an autobiography by Toklas because she became tired of waiting for Toklas to write the book herself She imitated Toklas s voice with an almost childlike glee, and I could feel the love on the page I don t dispute the book s importance, by Stein s style drives me bonkers I d much rather read ABOUT her than actually read her That said, I m glad she existed I m also glad I m not forced to read this all the time. A plainspoken account of the lives and works of the early 20th century European avant garde and the Lost Generation of the 20s Writing from the frank perspective of her own wife, Alice B Toklas, Stein all the while pays special homage to her own career and mind, which she repeatedly frames as genius. The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas was written inby Gertrude Stein in the guise of an autobiography authored by Alice B Toklas, who was her lover It is a fascinating insight into the art scene in Paris as the couple were friends with Paul C zanne, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso They begin the war years in England but return to France, volunteering for the American Fund for the French Wounded, driving around France, helping the wounded and homeless After the war Gertrude has an argument with T S Eliot after he finds one of her writings inappropriate They become friends with Sherwood Anderson and Ernest Hemingway It was written to make money and was indeed a commercial success However, it attracted criticism, especially from those who appeared in the book and didn t like the way they were depicted This is timely There s an article about Gertrude Stein today in the Huffington Post Others thought she was an asshole as I describe below as well Except I don t think they appreciated the genius part I recognized after reading this bookHere s what I know about Gertrude Stein She was an asshole.I say that in a joking way I actually learnedabout her from this book than I learned about Alice B Toklas whoever she was because this autobiography was written by Stein, supposedly fr This is timely There s an article about Gertrude Stein today in the Huffington Post Others thought she was an asshole as I describe below as well Except I don t think they appreciated the genius part I recognized after reading this bookHere s what I know about Gertrude Stein She was an asshole.I say that in a joking way I actually learnedabout her from this book than I learned about Alice B Toklas whoever she was because this autobiography was written by Stein, supposedly from Toklas s perspective and should, for all intents and purposes, be about Toklas Except it s all about Stein, as though Toklas wrote it about her You with me so far If you are, you ll agree Stein was sort of an asshole But also a genius because who thinks to do all this It seems overly complicated, right Just write an autobiography about yourself if you want to write about yourself it would actually look less arrogant that way The way she did it was to pretend like it s all about Alice, but that Alice only wrote it about Stein, even though Stein s name is listed as the author I mean, really Thinking about this all too much is enough to cause a brain aneurysm.So what did I learn about Alice She did not like hot weather Or walking Gertrude Stein, apparently, loved walking and hot weather Freak St Anthony of Padua was Alice s favorite saint Gertrude Stein preferred some other guy, some St Francis of Assissi because animals Alice was forgetful This seems like an especial jab at Alice Remember, this is Stein writing as though from Alice s perspective, right, so the comment about being forgetful is really Stein calling Alice forgetful Alice would go to bed early Stein was a night owl.Annnd that s about it In 252 pages, that is all the reader really discovers about Alice B Toklas I don t even know what her middle name was I lied her middle name was Babette, but I found that out from looking on Wikipedia While there is some Alice related information in the very first chapter, her middle name was not one of the things listed And people who first pick up the book will inevitably read that first chapter as though it s Stein talking about Stein, because she s the damn author of the book, so it s all very misleading and disorienting at first On the other hand, we know so much about Stein, as if there s not enough information about her life out there in the world What I did learn is that she lived in Pittsburgh for way less amount of time than I ever thought she did People here love to say Gertrude Stein lived in Pittsburgh Sorry, yinzers, she moved away when she was 6 months old and, according to this book, has never stepped foot on Pittsburgh soil again That is a bummer, I agree For about a year or , I lived a block away from the house where she was born You can see it here House.Having just re read Ernest Hemingway s A Moveable Feast recently, it was definitely cool to read Stein s account of the same time and place They wrote about a lot of the same people, including each other, and it s interesting to see how their views matched or differed Stein was muchinterested in the visual artists of the period than I think Hemingway was or at least she wrote about itthan he did, being such good friends with some guy called Picasso and others , but still covered a lot of similar territory In some ways, her description of the early 1900s isvivid to me reading the account now than Hemingway s was, but I think he was eveninterested in exposing gossip than she was which is hard to believe because she put up a good fight.I m intrigued that while she talked about the war years in Paris, there s still little emotion behind it, or any real sense how the war caused any significant disturbance in her life I got the impression that she or Toklas, or both, or whatever, I give up wanted to do something good for the cause, but it was mentioned only briefly, and then the topic shifted away from that, returning togood ol days withbuddies.I have never beeninterested in readingby Stein She Toklas referred to Stein s writing quite a bit, and one day hopefully soon I will tackle The Making of Americans which, I understand, has no real punctuation Or something like two commas in the entire book See Asshole But, again, also genius I want to bepissed at Stein, but I have to admire the way she really seems to be poking fun at the reader.Well played, Stein, well played.Seriously, though, don t read this book if you actually want to know anything about Toklas You won t find it here, I promise you that I feel that if I had the chance to meet one person from the 20th Century it would be Gertrude Stein She was friends with anyone who was anyone in the artistic and literary circles of early 20th century Paris The sheer amount of name dropping in this book is immense Picasso, Braque, Man Ray, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Pound, Beach, et al Although don t go into this book expecting something along the lines of Hemingway s A Moveable Feast, this majorly focuses on the artists of Paris, not th I feel that if I had the chance to meet one person from the 20th Century it would be Gertrude Stein She was friends with anyone who was anyone in the artistic and literary circles of early 20th century Paris The sheer amount of name dropping in this book is immense Picasso, Braque, Man Ray, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Pound, Beach, et al Although don t go into this book expecting something along the lines of Hemingway s A Moveable Feast, this majorly focuses on the artists of Paris, not the writers Since I m doing my BA in English Literature and History of Art this book was just fabulous to me This is a very niche book, but if you fit into that niche then this is essential reading And now I will tell you how two Americans happened to be in the heart of an art movement of which the outside world at that time knew nothing I m ashamed that I haven t delved into Stein s work until now, but quite honestly, at 900 pages, The Making of Americans seemed daunting Yet when I saw Stein s character in the movie Midnight in Paris, and I read Hemingway s A Moveable Feast, I knew it was time to read the work of one of the few women writers of her time and place So I started witAnd now I will tell you how two Americans happened to be in the heart of an art movement of which the outside world at that time knew nothing I m ashamed that I haven t delved into Stein s work until now, but quite honestly, at 900 pages, The Making of Americans seemed daunting Yet when I saw Stein s character in the movie Midnight in Paris, and I read Hemingway s A Moveable Feast, I knew it was time to read the work of one of the few women writers of her time and place So I started with her autobiography.The title of this memoir, The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas, is satire For years Stein had been asked to write a memoir and she refused Perhaps this is how she could bring herself to write one write it as if it were coming from her life partner of over twenty five years Sure, she said, as Pablo once remarked, when you make a thing, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly, but those that do it after you they don t have to worry about making it and they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when the others make it She was an important figure within American literature especially once you consider how many writers she mentored and introduced to Parisian society i.e Hemingway and how many manuscripts she read and edited She told Fitzgerald even though he didn t believe in himself at the time that The Great Gatsby would be read when many of his well known contemporaries are forgotten She wrote numerous novels and plays She also painted and was a vital figure and host within the artistic world She has a way with sentences in this memoir Short concise I ve heard that The Making of Americans has longer sentences but I really liked the stylistic choice here conversational tone and no dialogue quotations And it really does sound as if someone is telling you a story at least in the first part The first section was my favorite and was an easy four stars for me I also loved reading about Stein s close relationship with Pablo Picasso They were best friends and through her you re able to view his lifestyle Towards the end though, there were too many characters to keep up with and too many mini story lines You may however, like the inclusion of many writers and artists like Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Sylvia Beach, Roger Fry, Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso, and She says it is a good thing to have no sense of how it is done in the things that amuse you You should have one absorbing occupation and as for the other things in life for full enjoyment you should only contemplate results