Gertrude Stein: Contribution as American Author

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      Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), was a great American woman prose writer. She left America in 1903. Having spent her early years in Vienna and Paris as well as the United States, she moved back to Paris where she lived until her death except during the years of the Nazi occupation when she moved to the south. A lesbian, she lived with another expatriate American, Alice B Toklas from 1907. She was the friend of the great painters like Picasso, Matisse, and Braque. She established a saloon where she spent her fruitfully with the European intellectuals and artists and American expatriates like Hemingway, Anderson, and FitzGerald. Three Lives (1904) was her first published book, which shows the influence of naturalism. She produced some five hundred tiles: novels, poems, plays and articles, memories and portraits of the famous. The Autobiography of Alice B.Toklas which tells of her life and travels is her best-known work of the period. In her The Geographical History of America, she does major thinking of her period. By her work she is known undoubtedly as the major innovator, one of the leading figures of American Literary Modernism.

      On her deathbed, she asked the reason of a laughter of her friend sitting beside her. She was a writer who always committed to experiment and inquiry, and in particular, to asking fundamental questions about the relationship between language and reality. Composition As Expiations (1926) was significant book about the same theme. Her next What Are Masterpieces (1940) about the mechanics of creative writing. That work was followed by Picasso (1938) In her next book Lectures in America (1935) she urged that one should not only live in the actual present but also live corporately and express the actual present completely. In her book Narration (1935) she gives the classic examples of Whitman as a prolific writer who evoked “the sheer quality of the here and now, existing things.”

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