Gertrude Stein   A Stein Reader. Edited and with an introduction by Ulla E. Dydo.
Northwestern University Press, 624 pages, $59.95; $29.95 paper

reviewed by Guy Davenport

A few months ago Gertrude Stein was at a Lexington, Kentucky, bookstore, promoting her latest. I learned this by overhearing one sorority sweetheart shouting to another on campus: “It was fab seeing her in person! I mean, you know, Gertrude Stein!”

It was Gloria Steinem at the bookstore, but what other American writer, forty-seven years dead, can claim a place in the sparse learning of the intrepidly illiterate? Gertrude Stein is firmly wedged in the American mind, together with Alice Babette Toklas. Her salon at 27 rue de Fleurus (between the Boulevard Raspail and the Luxembourg Gardens) is an echo of the eighteenth century. There, in a room as famous as any in our time, hung with Picassos,...


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