The world has seen its fair share of influential individuals both in

the contemporary and the ancient societies. It goes without saying that
these individuals traverse the varied sectors of the societies within
which they live including manufacturing, politics, economics, poetry,
writing, religion and even activism. However, it is evident that these
individuals stand out from the varied other participants in similar
movements as a result of the distinctiveness of their ideas, as well as
vigor and tact with which they approached the issues that confronted the
societies within which they lived. This is the case for Gertrude Stein,
a modernist author who attracted admiration and contempt in equal
measure.
Born in 1874 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Gertrude Stein was one of the
most influential and imaginative writers in the 20th century. As a
daughter of a rich businessman, Stein spent her formative years in
Europe before the family moved to Oakland, California. Gertrude studied
psychology in Radcliffe College, where she graduated with her
bachelor’s degree in 1898, before moving on to the prestigious Johns
Hopkins Medical School where she studied medicine. However, Gertrude is
primarily known for the work that she did in Paris where she moved in
1903 and started collecting Post-Impressionist paintings alongside her
brother Leo ( HYPERLINK
“http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-stein-9493261”
http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-stein-9493261 ). Gertrude,
however, passionately advocated for the relatively “new” in art,
with her literary friendships growing to incorporate diverse individuals
such as James Joyce, William Carlos William, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest
Hemingway and even Djuana Barnes alongside other writers. Gertrude came
up with the phrase “the lost generation”, which described expatriate
writers that lived abroad between the wars. Unfortunately, Gertrude
parted ways with her brother in 1913, thanks to her support for cubist
painters, as well as her increasingly avant-garde writing.
Gertrude kicked off her writing career with the book titled “Three
Lives” which was published in 1909, after which she published
“Tender Buttons” in 1914. The later clearly demonstrated the immense
impact of modern painting on her writing, especially with regard to
cubist painting ( HYPERLINK
“http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-stein-9493261”
http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-stein-9493261 ). It is noted
that the small prose poems have phrases and images coming together in
quite surprising ways just as is the case for cubist painting.
The writing style used by Gertrude Stein was extremely idiosyncratic
and playfully repetitive. In some cases, her text comes with a clear
syncopation while in other cases, her writing flows like a persistent
stream of consciousness ( HYPERLINK
“http://www.egs.edu/library/gertrude-stein/biography/”
http://www.egs.edu/library/gertrude-stein/biography/ ). It is noted that
her style revolved around a literary interpretation of the attention of
Modernism to material pertaining to her medium. Gertrude Stein often
attempted to giver words that came with too many associations a wide
berth, opting for short words that were usually derived from Anglo-Saxon
(( HYPERLINK “http://www.egs.edu/library/gertrude-stein/biography/”
http://www.egs.edu/library/gertrude-stein/biography/ )). This,
therefore, empowered the reader to determine the relationship that he or
she had with the text, thanks to Gertrude’s willingness to express
ambiguity, especially considering that her writing usually concentrated
on the thrill of being.
As much as her writing, which featured the use of words not for their
meanings but for their sounds and associations, did not get a wide
audience, it attracted significant interest from other writers and
artists. Some of the most influential works by Gertrude Stein include
“The Making of Americans” published in 1925, “How to Write”
published in 1931, and “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas”
published in 1933, as well as “Stanzas in Meditation and Other Poems
[1929-1933]”, which was published posthumously in 1956.
In the course of the First World War, Gertrude was known to serve as
ambulance drivers serving the French. The end of the world war saw her
continue to maintain her salon, as well as serve as an inspiration and a
hostess to American expatriates such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sherwood
Anderson ( HYPERLINK “http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/315”
http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/315 ). It is worth noting that
“The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas” published in 1933, which
Gertrude wrote from the point of view of Toklas, was her only commercial
success. Nevertheless, Gertrude Stein held successful tours in the
United States in the 30s, but went back to France where she resided in
the course of the Second World War ( HYPERLINK
“http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/315”
http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/315 ). Apart from her memoirs and
novels, Gertrude wrote librettos to two of Vigil Thomson’s operas
namely “The Mother of Us All”, which was published in 1947 and
“Four Saints in Three Acts”, published in 1934.
Gertrude Stein died in France on 27th July 1946. There are variations
on the critical opinion pertaining to her varied writings. However, the
imprint pertaining to her witty and strong personality has lived on, as
is the case for the influence that she has had on contemporary
literature.
Gertrude Stein’s Influence in the 1920s
One of the most immense influences of Gertrude Stein in the 1920s
revolves around the inspiration of varied prolific writers, who later on
became famous in their own respect. Gertrude Stein is undoubtedly the
mother of the “Lost Generation”, as she chaperoned the young novices
in search of inspiration and renewal in Europe. The varied young (but
undiscovered) literary giants included William C William, Ernest
Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who were influenced by the
“avant-gardiste” writings and works of Gertrude Stein. Stein and
William had their paths crossing when the later started studying the
aspects of “being and speaking Aboriginal” ( HYPERLINK
“http://gertrudestein.e-monsite.com/pages/the-lost-generation-and-gertru
de-stein.html”
http://gertrudestein.e-monsite.com/pages/the-lost-generation-and-gertrud
e-stein.html ). He immensely admired Gertrude`s capacity to play with
words and the American language. Both of them shared the aspect of
focusing on objects that captured components pertaining to shapes and
colors. On the same note, it would be difficult to talk about the
“Lost Generation” without some snippets pertaining to Scott
Fitzgerald. Testament to the influence of Gertrude on Fitzgerald is his
first Book called “This Side of Paradise”. The book, which has three
parts, demonstrates the young generation of the 20’s, which is trying
to cover its general depression in forced exuberance pertaining to the
Jazz age ( HYPERLINK
“http://gertrudestein.e-monsite.com/pages/the-lost-generation-and-gertru
de-stein.html”
http://gertrudestein.e-monsite.com/pages/the-lost-generation-and-gertrud
e-stein.html ). It is noted that the book was emblematic of the period
in which the “Lost Generation” existed, with the main character
living in an environment where he feels safe and affords to trust until
events thwart all his ambitions and projects. On the same note, the
author comes as the protagonist in the book, especially considering the
similarities between the varied episodes through which their lives went.
These similarities clearly confirm the fact that Fitzgerald was an
accomplished writer from the Lost Generation. As much as Ernst
Hemingway, eventually, departed from the influence of Gertrude Stein
with their relationship deteriorating to the extent of having literary
quarrels that spanned over decades, he credited the rise of his career
to Gertrude, who also introduced him to expatriate writers and artists
if Montparnasse Quarter. Through studying the great leaders pertaining
to every movement in the “Lost Generation”, it is evident that
Gertrude immensely inspired the young novices. Indeed, Gertrude by
herself founded the movement in the societal margins thanks to her
“avant-gardiste” side ( HYPERLINK
“http://gertrudestein.e-monsite.com/pages/the-lost-generation-and-gertru
de-stein.html”
http://gertrudestein.e-monsite.com/pages/the-lost-generation-and-gertrud
e-stein.html ). Gertrude was immensely different from other authors of
her time thanks to the innovative and experimental nature of her works.
It is noted that she was significantly ahead of the movement that she
founded even prior to the coming of the authors that she chaperoned.
In addition, Gertrude Stein contributed immensely in establishing a
provocative and innovative writing style that deviated significantly
from the normal establishments. It is noted that her writing defied a
large number of the conventions pertaining to English literature. A case
in point is her notoriety with extensive usage of the split infinitive,
as well as the rejection of punctuation. Gertrude threw away the
European literary ideology that featured an overdependence of a highly
structured narrative form and promoted the notion that writing should
incorporate an exact reproduction of inner or outer reality, rather than
having emotion as the source of literature. In a lecture at Cambridge
and Oxford, Stein outlined the theoretical basis pertaining to the
experimental prose. She argued that the artistic and cultural contexts
have an impact on the manner in which literary works are written and
read (Simon 17). She outlined the fact that there are instances where
the reader does not share the same context with the writer. In instances
where writers bring in new perceptions and patterns of thinking, their
works may be deemed avant-garde and impenetrable (Simon 17). This was,
essentially, the case for her thoughtful works, which are testament to
the complex and deep intellectual basis for her literary productions. As
much as Gertrude left her home in the course of the Second World War,
she left a legacy of normative divergence that continued well into the
subsequent decades, as she had laid the foundation for future European
women generations to cut ties with the reigning conventions and reshape
their lives and their societies according to their likes and preferences
(Simon 17).
On the same note, Getrude Stein played an immense role in eliminating
the stigma that came with being gay or a homosexual. Indeed, Gertrude is
not only credited with being a trailblazer for atheists and even the
burgeoning a new school pertaining to modernist writers but also as a
pioneer for homosexuals ( HYPERLINK
“http://womenineuropeanhistory.org/index.php?title=Gertrude_Stein”
http://womenineuropeanhistory.org/index.php?title=Gertrude_Stein ). Her
homosexual tendencies may have been hidden in her literary works but she
never made any attempts at hiding her homosexual relationships in real
life. This was at a time when such tendencies were frowned upon. Her
well chronicled homosexual relationship was with her secretary named
Toklas, with whom she met on 8th September, 1907. Indeed, it is noted
that Gertrude openly courted Alice Toklas in spite of the immense
discomfort that her family and friends had with the tendencies. This
was, essentially the reason for their going separate ways with her
brother Leo, who was extremely uncomfortable with the fact that Alice
had moved into the apartment that they Leo shared with his sister. Alice
not only became Gertrude`s secretary but also took up the
responsibilities pertaining to all household operations, while Gertrude
concentrated with writings that increasingly revolved around her
relationship with Alice. The rejection of the identity that had been
crafted on her and other women by the society allowed Gertrude Stein to
open up varied opportunities for future European women generations to
upend societal expectations, as well as truly craft individual and
autonomous identities ( HYPERLINK
“http://womenineuropeanhistory.org/index.php?title=Gertrude_Stein”
http://womenineuropeanhistory.org/index.php?title=Gertrude_Stein ).
In conclusion, Gertrude Stein was one of the most influential and
imaginative writers in the 20th century. As a daughter of a rich
businessman, Stein spent her formative years in Europe before the family
moved to Oakland, California. Gertrude is primarily known for the work
that she did in Paris where she moved in 1903 and started collecting
Post-Impressionist paintings alongside her brother Leo. Gertrude,
however, passionately advocated for the relatively “new” in art,
with her literary friendships growing to incorporate diverse individuals
such as James Joyce, William Carlos William, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest
Hemingway and even Djuana Barnes alongside other writers. Gertrude came
up with the phrase “the lost generation”, which described expatriate
writers that lived abroad between the wars. As much as her writing,
which featured the use of words not for their meanings but for their
sounds and associations, did not get a wide audience, it attracted
significant interest from other writers and artists.
Nevertheless, One of the most immense influences of Gertrude Stein in
the 1920s revolves around the inspiration of varied prolific writers,
who later on became famous in their own respect. Gertrude Stein is
undoubtedly the mother of the “Lost Generation”, as she chaperoned
the young novices in search of inspiration and renewal in Europe. In
addition, Gertrude Stein contributed immensely in establishing a
provocative and innovative writing style that deviated significantly
from the normal establishments. It is noted that her writing defied a
large number of the conventions pertaining to English literature.
Lastly, Getrude Stein played an immense role in eliminating the stigma
that came with being gay or a homosexual. Indeed, Gertrude is not only
credited with being a trailblazer for atheists and even the burgeoning a
new school pertaining to modernist writers but also as a pioneer for
homosexuals.
Works cited
Gertrude Stein biography. Bio Full Story. Web Retrieved from
HYPERLINK “http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-stein-9493261”
http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-stein-9493261
Poetry.Org. Gertrude Stein, retrieved from HYPERLINK
“http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/315”
http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/315
Simon, Linda. Gertrude Stein, 1874-1946. Jewish Women’s Archive, 2009
Retrieved from HYPERLINK
“http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/stein-gertrude”
http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/stein-gertrude
Gertrude Stein. The Lost Generation and Gertrude Stein. Retrieved from
HYPERLINK
“http://gertrudestein.e-monsite.com/pages/the-lost-generation-and-gertru
de-stein.html”
http://gertrudestein.e-monsite.com/pages/the-lost-generation-and-gertrud
e-stein.html
The European Graduate School. Gertrude Stein – Biography, retrieved
from HYPERLINK “http://www.egs.edu/library/gertrude-stein/biography/”
http://www.egs.edu/library/gertrude-stein/biography/
Gertrude Stein: A Critical Biography. Women in European History, web
retrieved from HYPERLINK
“http://womenineuropeanhistory.org/index.php?title=Gertrude_Stein”
http://womenineuropeanhistory.org/index.php?title=Gertrude_Stein
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