Why Do Something If It Can Be Done: Quoting Gertrude Stein #10

Post # 10. "Before the flowers of friendship faded friendship faded." This family photo shows Gertrude, freshly settled in Paris with brother Leo (left), in 1907, a few years before their friendship faded.
I was going to tell you how moving to Paris, my new "hometown," helped me to finally befriend Gertrude Stein, the unreadable writer. Well, twice before I had felt a flash-like connection with my difficult muse. When I heard the quote about friendship my small life experience as a school girl went, Aha! -- and again when I read in "Poetry and Grammar" how "commas are holding your coat for you."
"Poetry and Grammar," a lecture Gertrude had given on her America tour, was a treasure that came with me when I moved away from Germany. I still have the copy, dog-eared and faded, and I used to stare at those sentences, Stein's ruminations on what makes a sentence and what makes a paragraph, like young Coco Chanel used to stare at striped sailor shirts on the coast of Normandy. Which brings me to Paris.
"That is why writers have to have two countries, the one where they belong and the one in which they live really. The second one is romantic, it is separate from themselves, it is not real but it is really there." A friend handed me the small book called "Paris France" (no comma). I opened it and started laughing. Already on page one, where she comments on the comedy of French traffic wars between cars and pedestrians, I recognized the Paris I knew. "If anybody jumps back or jumps at all in the streets of Paris you can be sure they are foreign not french."
A little later she says,"A frenchman always goes completely to pieces when his mother dies," and the absurd "always" in this sentence cracked me up. I recognized what I had already observed in different terms: that French men allowed themselves a certain femininity and even hystericalness whereas French women had permission to be sharp-minded and outright sexual. This fascinating balance within gender, the harmony between logic and fashion that Stein describes as elements of civilization was something I knew. She calls the mixture "peaceful and exciting", and I knew what she meant and I knew that suddenly I could read Gertrude Stein.

Views: 13

Tags: France, Gertrude, Grammar, Leo, Paris, Poetry, Stein


You need to be a member of She Writes to add comments!

Join She Writes

Comment by Renate Stendhal on October 29, 2009 at 6:27pm
Merci, Kate! Vive la France! :)
Comment by Kate O'Mara on October 29, 2009 at 4:05pm

I shared this page with a friend who livd in France for sometime. Thank you.

Latest Activity

Shelah L. Maul liked Victoria Zackheim's blog post The agony...the ecstasy...
3 minutes ago
Shelah L. Maul commented on the blog post 'The agony...the ecstasy...'
"Victoria, this is awesome! I can relate to the feelings of the rollercoaster ride of writing/publishing. My book isn't even out there yet, but already I've had more ups and downs than I can comfortably stomach. Vacillating confidence…"
3 minutes ago
Shelah L. Maul liked Victoria Zackheim's blog post The agony...the ecstasy...
9 minutes ago
Shelah L. Maul commented on the blog post 'Introducing...Wishful Thinking, Chapter One.'
"Congratulations Kamy! I really enjoyed the first chapter, liked you on facebook, and love your book cover! I know it must be scary finally putting your work out there...I'll be doing the same shortly! I don't have a release date yet, but…"
12 minutes ago




© 2015   Created by Kamy Wicoff.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service