Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

How to Write
Gertrude Stein

£12.99

First published in 1931, this volume offers Gertrude Stein’s reflections on the art and craft of writing. Although written in her distinctive experimental style, the book is remarkably accessible and easy to read. The modernist author’s characteristic humor is borne out by some of the chapter titles, ‘Saving the Sentence’, ‘Arthur a Grammar’, ‘Regular Regularly in Narrative’, and ‘Finally George a Vocabulary’. Stein’s experimental style features elements such as disconnectedness, a love of refrain and rhyme, a search for rhythm and balance, a dislike of punctuation (especially the comma), and a repetition of words and phrases. Those who are unfamiliar with her Stein’s work or have found it difficult to understand will discover in How to Write an excellent entrée to a unique literary voice and an imaginative approach to language that continues to inspire writers and readers.

Paperback, 416pp
Dover Publications, 2018 (1931)
ISBN 9780486828428

Biography

GERTRUDE STEIN (1874-1946) was an American novelist and poet. Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Stein was raised in an upper-middle-class Jewish family alongside four siblings. After a brief move to Vienna and Paris, the Steins settled in Oakland, California in 1878, where Stein would spend her formative years. In 1892, following the loss of her mother and father, Stein moved with her sister to live with family in Baltimore, where she was exposed to salon culture. From 1893 to 1897 she attended Radcliffe College, studying psychology under William James. Conducting experiments on the phenomenon of normal motor automatism, Stein produced early examples of steam of consciousness or automatic writing, a hallmark of the Modernist style later practiced by Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and William Faulkner. In 1897, she enrolled at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine on the recommendation of James, but ultimately left before completing her degree. She moved to Paris with her brother Leo, an artist, in 1903. In the French capital, the Steins gained a reputation as art collectors, purchasing works by Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Renoir. At 27 rue de Fleurus, Stein hosted an influential salon for such artists and intellectuals as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and F Scott Fitzgerald, who recognized her as a leading Modernist and central figure of the so-called Lost Generation. Her influential works include Three Lives (1909), Tender Buttons (1912), and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), all of which exemplify her control over vastly different styles of poetry and prose. Capable of producing experimental, hermetic works that draw attention to the constructed nature of language, Stein also excelled with straightforward narratives, essays, and biographical descriptions. From 1907 until her death, Stein and her life partner Alice B. Toklas gained a reputation as leaders in the international avant-garde, and remain essential to our understanding of the development of twentieth century art and culture.