127 Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein (1874 – 1946) would be essential to the history of literature had she never written a word – but she did write words, lots of them, and they’ve led to her having an uneasy position in the canon of English literature. Avant-garde pioneer? Literary charlatan? Or underappreciated genius? In this episode, we look at the fascinating life and works of the incomparable (and irrepressible) Gertrude Stein.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

Music Credits: “When You’re Down, My Dear” by Josh Hetherington and Ronny Haynes, from Show Me Where It Hurts, available at showmewhereithurts.bandcamp.com


2 thoughts on “127 Gertrude Stein”

  1. Thanks for the fine work. I always look forward to a new edition to your podcast library. I especially liked your recent chat about the magic of Emily Dickinson. In the intro to ‘Genius,’ a bio about physicist Richard Feynman, Murray Gell-Man, no mental slouch himself, explains that there are two kinds of geniuses. One kind is just a smarter version of ourselves. We think that if we only studied more, red more, applied ourselves more, that we could be as smart as this bloke. Then there are the people whose genius is pure magic. We don’t get it. We see the question and understand their answer and have nary a clue as to how they got from one the other. Feynman was certainly this kind of genius as I guess that Dickinson was.

    But I digress!

    Two questions from letters read during the Stein podcast.

    First. What in the world is a ‘former lit major?’ If one is a lit major once then aren’t they still a lit major? I don’t get it.

    Second. I agree that Reince Priebus is at least as eelish as Debbie Wasserman Schultz but you made a comment that begs an answer. When introducing Priebus, you stated “for those lucky enough to live outside of the US…” Huh? I’ve lived all around the US and have found wonderful things in every corner of the country. I don’t denigrate any country but wonder why you would count someone lucky to live somewhere else. Do you count yourself as unlikely to be stuck in the US?

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I’m fascinated by our concepts of genius and your explanation of the two types of genius has given me a lot of room for thinking. Onto the questions!

      1) I took “former lit major” to mean “I was a lit major in college but now I’m not in college anymore.” I agree that a lit major is a lit major for life. It’s like having royal blood or an incurable disease.

      2) I probably wasn’t too clear when I made my “lucky enough to live elsewhere” comment. I wasn’t trying to run down America so much as imagine a country where one hadn’t heard of Reince Priebus. So instead of “lucky enough not to live in America” I might have more precisely said, “lucky enough not to be immersed in American political news.” Or to put it another way, no doubt every other country has its own Reince Priebuses to worry about, and I consider myself lucky not to have to know who those people are. We’re all lucky not to live somewhere or other. 🙂

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