Bitch Please: Gertrude Stein

BY DI ARTS STAFF | JUNE 16, 2009 7:11 AM

My first experience with Gertrude Stein was reading Three Lives for a lit class last fall. I didn’t make it very far before I wanted to hurl myself, or better yet the book, through the Cambus window. Why was this? Try Stein’s apparent pronoun phobia.

Take an excerpt from Stein’s most palatable work, Three Lives : “Melanctha did everything that any woman could, and at last her mother died, and Melanctha had her buried. Melanctha’s father was not heard from, and Melanctha in all her life after, never saw or heard or knew of anything that her father did.”

There’s something about Three Lives that defies the reason why we even use language. I understand Stein was important, and in her own way she helped revolutionized the very form of the novel itself. Stein was buddies with Hemingway and Picasso. I get it. She even got away with a whole new level of 20th Century dirt with “Tender Buttons,” (just think about that one).

I understand that the way she wrote content was not necessarily important, and words were arranged to make sense if they were read out loud. It’s a very nice theory, but spare me the practice.

My relationsip with Ms. Stein is just another one of those “I love you, but get away from me” moments.

— by Kery Lawson

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