Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Gertrude Stein, in her work, has always been possessed by the intellectual passion for exactitude in the description of inner or outer reality. She has produced a simplification by this concentration, and as a result the destruction of associational emotion in poetry and prose. She knows that beauty, music, decoration, the result of emotion should never be the cause, even events should not be the cause of emotion nor should they be the material of poetry or prose. They should consist of an exact reproduction of either an outer or an inner reality."

from The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas


John B-R said...

Wow. Gerrtrude Stein was certainly sure of a lot, wasn't she?

Alan Baker said...

But it wasn't Gertrude Stein who said this, it was Alice B Toklas.

John B-R said...

Guess I should have written that Alice was sure Gertrude was sure ... not much humility in that bunch!

Ed Baker said...

dougnut take the autobiagraphy of Alice B as

coming from other-wise

every one of Gertrude Stein s works/books are an huge afaire/afire

Alan Baker said...

Of course, I was being facetious, and the book is written by Stein about herself. The self-praise and boasting is part of the joke though; I can't take as being totally straight-faced. I think also - and I'm sure lots of people have written about this before - that Stein's perception of her neglect and lack of worldly 'success' probably influenced the way she wrote about her own work.

As for what she says in this passage, I know what she means - was it Schiller, who advised poets to avoid interesting subjects? - and I also can see that she's talking about abstraction, and was, I guess, much influenced by abstraction in painting.

In aiming for 'the destruction of associational emotion in poetry and prose', she appears to be prefiguring the theory of LANGUAGE poetry.