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Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
Rarely do I find an author as intriguing as Gertrude Stein. Here was a woman that broke boundaries all her life in what I perceived as a life of adventure. A graduate of Radcliffe she attempted to go to medical school at Johns Hopkins where she lacked interest in the field but was able to experience some groundbreaking relationships that allowed her to come out to herself. She later used this medical knowledge in WWI as an ambulance driver on the fronts of war torn Europe as did many great authors.

Gertrude Stein Pittsburgh IMG_8545

Gertrude met her lifetime partner Alice B. Toklas in 1907 and was immediately intrigued by her. They shared an apartment in Paris and were able to live lives of independence compared to the freedom many women lacked in that time when males ruled. They explored art, theatre, writing, politics and generally had a time in Europe just being themselves.

Ironically during the time of Vichy France Gertrude was a Vichy ally despite being Jewish herself. She later joined the French Resistance. Which indicated her Vichy leanings may have been only done out of self protection and not out of adherence to Fascist ideals.


Literary figure Gertrude Stein, left, famous for her unusual interpretation of the English language, arrives in New York aboard the S.S. Champlain Oct. 24, 1934 with her secretary and companion Alice B. Toklas. Headlines and enthusiastic crowds greeted Stein as she returned to her homeland for the first time in more than 30 years. (AP Photo)

Gertrude's Steins apartment in France was a desired location for visitors interested in eclectic vibrant discussion and socializing amongst intellectuals.
My (narrators) Aunt (upper left) with fellow WAACS visiting Gertrude Stein in her Paris apartment in July 1945.

Gertrude Stein and Visitors

What I enjoyed the most of Gertrude Stein was her disinterest in standard writing form. She created her own literary style that was emulated by others. Making her somewhat of a literary anarchist.
Breaking decisively with all previous literary traditions and grammatical norms, Gertrude Stein forged a unique idiom—abstract and down-to-earth, playful and subversive, philosophical and erotic by turns—which influenced writers as varied as Ernest Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, Thornton Wilder, and John Ashberry. This Library of America volume, along with its companion, surveys a literary trajectory that from the beginning of the 20th century to the end of World War II marked her as a fearless and uncompromising experimenter. She was also a master of anecdote and aphorism, many of whose phrases—from "rose is a rose is a rose" to "there is no there there" and "when this you see remember me"—have passed into the language.

This first volume, containing works written between 1903 and 1932, takes Stein from her first, more traditional fictional works to the exuberant and astonishing experiments of the early Paris years. She was a devoted student of William James, with whom she studied psychology at Radcliffe in the 1890s, and took an early interest in memory and the function of repetition in human character. In her early works, she sought a new kind of realism exemplified here by Q.E.D. (written 1903, published posthumously), a novel about lesbian entanglements at college, and the modern classic Three Lives (1909), a set of novellas about the lives of three ordinary women, described in the simplest and most direct of prose.

Alice B Tolkas survived Gertrude Stein by over twenty years but it was their long lasting relationship that made the concept of life partners something more than a theory at a time when their very relationship was doubted and dismissed as impossible.

photobooth pair

Originally posted to Horace Boothroyd III on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 08:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Angry Gays, LGBT Rights are Human Rights, Milk Men And Women, and Remembering LGBT History.

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