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Stein, Gertrude

autobiography stories wars friends

(US, 1874–1946)

For most of her adult life Stein lived in Paris, where she was friends with avant-garde writers and painters, including Picasso and Matisse. Stein wrote poetry, short stories, essays, novels, plays, and autobiographies. Her experimental writing is difficult and has been compared to Cubist painting, as if Stein were rearranging the very building-blocks of language. However, she also wrote a number of witty and entertaining books. Start with Three Lives (1909), three relatively accessible stories of working-class women in Baltimore. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) is actually Stein's autobiography, told from the point of view of her lesbian lover. It was a best-seller in its day, and is full of mischievous gossip about Stein's famous friends. Brewsie and Willie (1946) is also a good read. This is the story of two young American soldiers in Paris during the Second World War. A more challenging work is Wars I Have Seen (1945), a fascinating meditation on Stein's experience of living in France through two world wars.

Brigid Brophy, James Joyce  TT

Steinbeck, John [next] [back] Stegner, Wallace

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