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The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
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The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (Paperback)

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Synopsis

A fascinating insight into the vibrant culture of Modernism, and the rich artistic world of Paris's Left Bank, Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas includes an introduction by Thomas Fensch in Penguin Modern Classics.



For Gertrude Stein and her wife Alice B. Toklas, life in Paris was based upon the rue de Fleurus and the Saturday evenings and 'it was like a kaleidoscope slowly turning'. Picasso was there with 'his high whinnying Spanish giggle', as were Cezanne and Matisse, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. As Toklas put it - 'The geniuses came and talked to Gertrude Stein and the wives sat with me'. A light-hearted entertainment, this is in fact Gertrude Stein's own autobiography and a roll-call of all the extraordinary painters and writers she met between 1903 and 1932. Audacious, sardonic and characteristically self-confident, this is a definitive account by American in Paris.



Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), a writer of experimental prose, is one of the original American Modernists. Born in Pennsylvania, she lived most of her life in Paris with her partner, Alice B. Toklas. Experimental books like Three Lives (1909), Tender Buttons (1914), and The Making of Americans (1925) established her reputation as an avant-garde stylist, and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas made her an international celebrity. As an experimental writer she has been an inspiration to countless novelists and poets in our century, from Ernest Hemingway and Edith Sitwell in her own time to Jack Kerouac and Robert Duncan in ours.



If you enjoyed The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, you might like Virginia Woolf's Orlando, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.



'Buttonholes the reader with its informality, its unhurried rhythms, deadpan humour and acerbic remarks'

Frances Spalding, Sunday Times

BiographyBiography: generalAutobiography: generalBiographyBiography: generalBiography: literaryEssays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writersEssays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: generalLiterary studies: from c 1900 - Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd Publication Date: 26/04/2001 ISBN-13: 9780141185361  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Gertrude Stein was a titan of early feminism and one of the great pioneers of the modernist world. Born in Pennsylvania in 1874, Stein lived through a period of global upheaval, writing groundbreaking literature and supporting emerging poets and artists. Luminaries like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Ezra Pound, Jean Cocteau, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald were regular visitors at her famous Paris salon, where she lived with her life partner of forty years, Alice B. Toklas. Her complex personal beliefs and politics still defy easy categorisation, inspiring controversy to this day. Stein was a one-woman renegade literary movement, and her body of work - including Three Lives, Tender Buttons, The Making of Americans, and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas - broke a long succession of moulds. When she died in 1946, Gertrude Stein was a transcontinental literary icon, and one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century.

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I recently took part in a 48 hour continuous live reading of Stein’s Making of Americans in Brooklyn, New York. I thought I’d hate reading her aloud, but in fact the section I got handed was really beautiful. So then I picked this up off my ‘should have read it 20 years ago’ pile. And it’s so funny and thrilling. What a house they ran together, and what amazing people passed through it: Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Hemingway, Fitzgerald!

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012

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