« Stuff You Missed in History Class

SYMHC Classics: Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

2021-02-13 | 🔗

This 2018 episode covers Gertrude Stein, an icon in the world of modernist literature. Alice B. Toklas is often described as her partner and assistant, but she was also a published writer, and "assistant"really doesn't cover how important she was to Stein's life and work.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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dot, Org, slash, integrative primary care Happy Saturday, tomorrow is Valentine's day. We are bringing a historical love story out of our classic episode today. This is Gertrude Stein and Alice be toothless. Really, first, about on February fourteenth of twenty eighty welcome to stuff. You missed in history class, a production of Iheart Radio Hello and welcomed podcast, I'm Tracy. We will then have I'm Holly Fried today's podcast it's coming out on Valentine's day, so we thought it would be a good day to talk about a famous literary couple: Gertrude Stein and Alice Betokeneth Gertrude Stein
is an icon in the world of modernist literature, and although Alice B, Toklas is more often described as her partner and assistant, she was a published writer as well, and assistant does not really begin to cover how important she was to Stein's life and work Also, together, the two of them famously hosted a salon at their Paris home that was frequented by our and writers such as Pablo Picasso, F Scott Bits share old and our remit teeth, and that Swan was really influential in the whole world of literature and art yeah gets Prince did a lot of people's life biographies. That all we met it. Gertrude Stein, philosopher that she's kind of becomes a big big, connecting point in in history. At that point, Gertrude Stein was born and Allegheny Pennsylvania on February Third seen. Seventy four. She was the youngest of five children
and two sisters and two brothers and her father was an immigrant to the United States. Having moved here from Bavaria in eighteen, forty one, the family was jewish and although they belong to a synagogue, they were not particularly observant grassroots family, moved back to Europe for five years when she was still a baby and when they return and they started out in Baltimore where Gertrude had relatives on her mother's side. Eventually, though, they moved to Oakland California and they live really comfortably their thanks to her fathers, investments and rental properties. Street car lines they work. Well off family. It's time is the person who coined the famous phrase. There is no there there and it was in reference to Oakland out of content People tended to interpret it as being dismissive of Oakland as a city, but it comes everybody's autobiography, which he published in nineteen thirty, seven
really more about the painfully nostalgic experience of trying to go home again and finding that everything is changed by the time. Gertrude with seventeen. Both of her parents had died, her mother in eighteen, eighty eight and her father in eighteen. Ninety one after her father's death, Gertrude oldest Their Michael inherited the family business is he took her we're siblings, with him to San Francisco, where he was a division, superintendent of the Market Street railway. After A year. Gertrude her brother LEO and her sister Bertha all moved back to Baltimore to live with an ant Gertrude and LEO were very close and when he got into Harvard she went to Cambridge Massachusetts with him she enrolled at Harvard School for women, which was known as Harvard Annex when she started but Been renamed Radcliffe College by the time she graduated in eighteen, ninety seven
while she was in college. Gertrude Stein was deeply interested in psychology. She studied under psychologist, William James. She public two formal papers in psychology before she graduated the first of them, which was her first published work ever where was quote normal motor automatism, which Sea co authored with Leon Solomon's this paper, that's held a series of experiments in automatic writing, so the subjects would have their hand resting on a planchette. They would focus their attention. On something else, reading a story like let their hand right on its own and just to be clear, Its automatic writing also has some paranormal connotations. They were in putting the writing that resulted from these experiments as the work of the subconscious, not as the work of some kind of spirit we know, we do boards precedent if it's- work in psychology, lab influenced Stein, leader writing, Jane
his own work in psychology influenced her as well, particularly the idea of a stream of consciousness, which was first described in eighteen. Ninety the principles of psychology, we're gonna talk more about later after graduating, from Radcliffe Stein went to onto Johns Hopkins Medical School. She started there in eighteen. Ninety seven, but it didn't go very well toward the end of her study you she started failing classes. She had also become infatuated with Mary books. Taber was nicknamed may She was involved with one of Gertrude Stein. Classmates may didn't return, Gertrude, affections and Gertrude. It already really been struggling with depression, so all of this together left her feeling really dejected and despondent. Anna fictional used version of member states would be part of some of Gertrude Stein later creative work by this point,
LEO Stein had moved to London, so in nineteen o, two Gertrude dropped out of Johns Hopkins and joined him there in aid three they move to France, where LEO had a flat at twenty seven rue de flew in POW, Mass Michael Sarah Stein, along with their son Alan soon moved into a home near by as well and Michael been shrewd in his management of their fathers investments, and it was largely his money that allowed them all to have a very comfortable life in France. It was in France, at the age of twenty nine that Gertrude Stein really started to dedicate herself to writing. She Brother were also patrons of the arts. They sought out avant garde artists, work was at the time a known. This device, into a massive collection of modern art by people who would become really famous. They were ugly buying out from people who nobody knew about at the time and then later on, those those people would have serious name for themselves. The biggest presence
In that collection, where pulses on our remoteness and Pablo Picasso, a lot of other artists are part of this collection to including Edward Money and retailers LE track this Lex and literally filled the walls at twenty seven rude if loose and in nineteen sixty eight James, our mellow writing for the New York Times described it as the first, the world's First Museum of modern art I know I romanticizing it, but this whole life situation sounds pretty heavenly light. Were we when as money, the kind of do what we want. Let's go, find unknown and obscure. Artists who will disappear. Careful ardor of us all the time and we live in France. That's the love which I really do and it's likely That LEO was really the one who introduce Gertrude to the Parisian aren't scene, but Gertrude developed a particular interest. One specific artist, and that was Pablo Picasso Gertrude
patronage helped Picasso stay afloat in the early part of his career. In nineteen o six. He painted her portrait, which is in the section of the Metropolitan Museum of ART to day and night you know, seven Gertrude Stein met Alice, beat hopeless, Alice was born in them. The scale on April thirtieth of eighteen. Seventy seven, her parents were Ferdinand, hopeless and Emma Levinsky, and she was there oldest chow. Child and their only daughter, like Gertrude Allison there was an emigrant and having to come to Poland in eighteen, sixty five, her mother father and uncles had emigrated from Poland as well. Another similarity between the two families is at the top losses were jewish, but not especially observance had a well off, but otherwise conventional childhood with the family. Moving to Seattle in eighteen, ninety she attended private school before going to the University of Seattle and she enjoyed art and music, and she was good enough.
The piano that for a while, she actually thought about becoming a concert pianist Alice also loved reading at her favorite writer was Henry James Brother of Gertrude psychology Mentor William James, but toothless, Lee, eventually moved back to San Francisco and Alice's mother. Emma died there in eighteen, ninety seven when Alice's twenty in Samara Cisco. The total us, as became acquainted with some of the Stein family and in Tino, six in the wake of the San Francisco earthquake, Michael serious time travel back from France to check on all their property. Their Alice was captivated by the state stories of Europe and since the death of her mother. She found herself spending most over time keeping house for the men in her family should all come to understand that she was attracted to other women. All of
together made her life in California feel really narrow and restrictive. So in one thousand nine hundred and seven at the age of thirty, she decided to try to find more freedom for herself in Paris traveling there with and Harriet Lane levy on September eighth night No seven Gertrude Stein met Alice, be total is for the first time at the pair, home of Michael Stein. That was tokenism First day in Paris on wheels, about how they started to build a life together after a quick sponsor break
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judgment, she transcribed she type she made. Corrections should manage their household and their life together, even though often had a hired cook told us was also skilled in the kitchen and she did but point embroidery, including in divine that Pablo Picasso created for her, so cool two years after they met Stein, pebble her first book three lives, one of the pieces, it is an a villa called belonged fur and its a woman of the same name. Who is this? in the book as a mulatto and her relationship with the black doktor at the time This story earned a lot of praise for being a depiction of black life written by a white woman. But of course today that seems patronising and dated, and it was largely stones. Relationship with May books favour we can as being between a man and woman of Color Alice, move
and with Gertrude and LEO and nineteen ten and things did not go very well between the two siblings sum of LEO's D says with his sister- were artistic LEO, didn't think. Gertrude writing was particularly good, which Gertrude resented Gertrude had all become an avid supporter of the cubist art movement which LEO didn't think was particularly valuable or noteworthy. This seems like such sibling thing, re yeah, but more personal level. The word homophobia had not been coined yet, as we talk about in our recent episodes on an lister the idea. Of lesbianism as an identity was in its infancy at the turn of the twentieth century, but LEO new. They Gertrude and Alice were not simply close platonic friends and he did not approve of that sort. In nineteen. Thirteen LEO Stein moved out of the flat at twenty seven rue de footloose. Here
True, divided up that massive art collection with Gertrude portion, including the Picasso, is when they were gone. We I wrote to his sister saying quote: I hope that we will all live happily ever after and maintain our respective and do proportions while sucking gleefully our respective oranges. During their time: living together, Gertrude and her brother had been regularly hosting artists in their home, but leave had been the more outgoing gregarious when Gertrude had mostly stuck to the background. It's her brother moved out Gertrude moved into his former role, often being the one to talk to writers and painters, while socialized with their wives. Alot of stones work from the nineteenth heathens was inspired by Cuba's met Mary geometric, abstract movement that was inspired by art from Africa and the iberian peninsula. Cuba's them
still life down to geometric forms in the movements. Earlier years, you can usually still recognize what the original subjected the painting had been so, for example, Picassos LE demoiselle dummy or, for example, is obviously group of nude women, but there also painted in a very angular in flattened away by about nine in him, though, Cuba's painters we're doing what was called hermetic or analytic Cuba's them and has had a lot of overlapping angular shapes, often in a very monochrome palette, with their real the subjects that had we know been the same, Point four, the painting being barely discernible if at all start did with words with the cuban painters were doing with paint and canvas. Rather, then trying to write descriptive Lee in conventional way that reflected real life. She D still things down too little bits and seemingly disconnected words, a good,
ample is nineteen fourteen tender buttons, a collection of experts, mental hermetic pieces arranged into objects, food and rooms. So, to give listeners a sense of what this was like dogs from Ex reads quote a little monkey goes like a donkey. That means to say that means to say that more size. Last goes leave with it monkey goes like a donkey stuff work was also heavily influenced by William James is ideas of the stream of consciousness, which we mentioned earlier as Jane described it a person's states of mine change, but all these states connect to one another, and within these different connected states, ideas and words repeat themselves, but their meaning changes through that repetition and through relationships to each other Stein, but this concept into practice in works like sacred Emily, which was where she first penned her most famous line row
is a rose, is arose, is arose, sacred. Emily was written in nineteen thirteen and published in the book geography and plays a nineteen twenty two. It's a three hundred sixty seven line poem nearly all of it, one ensue syllable words which works the day of an ordinary woman at home, the lines are really choppy in their repetitive. Seven lines in a row are just the word pale P, a l e by itself some and build on each other. So one portion of it reads quote: put something down put something on Sunday something down some day in put something down some day, in my in my hand in my head, right in my in writing, put something some day in my handwriting today Treat Stein is considered to be a pioneer in modernist literature. But there is debate about exactly how much of her work directly influenced other writers. At the time stream of
justness, became its own style of writing connected to, but still distinct from the street of conscious idea in William James is psychology work. James Joy, throat Ulysses after being exposed to stones work, but it's not complete, clear whether he intentionally followed. Her example on the other hand, starts cubist and hermetic work. Evidently had its detractors. The same kinds of credit firms that you'll hear about cubist, art or modern, abstract art in general. People does, as people describe abstract art as not art or has just blotches of paint, or whatever people described Stein writing as unreadable nonsense. That didn't mean anything and had no value she kept at it, though Stein and took list, went to my orca at the start of world war, one and then returned to science in nineteen sixteen or they voluntary. For the American Fund for the French wounded Stein.
To drive and she and total is started. Delivering hospital supplies to outposts in rural France back Paris after the war started and hopeless we're still hosting their salons, they were still buying art. Although now people like Picasso. Enmities were to famous for them to really afford Stein, really capture focus on the our guard and they turn their attention to finding lesser known surrealist to buy their art was also after world war, one that Stein coined the term lost generation for the american writers who had come of age during the war and were A name for themselves in the nineteen twenties she said she heard a garage owner refer to young people as a general ass. Your belt do, which means lost generation. And then later on. She brought it up in a conversation with Ernest Hemingway saying you are all a lost generation,
it was Hemingway who popularized the term, which came to apply both to that whole generation of Americans and especially to the american expatriate writers living in Europe, including of Prs, Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald. Through all of this, through the war after the war, all of its Stein and hopeless, were inseparable. They had a collection of pet names for one another stein called topless Wifey, Cocalus called Stein, they called each other mister and Missus cuddle wells. These, Just examples Stein often stayed up, really late, writing and she would leave little notes by the pillow foretopmast define when she woke up in the morning signing, Why D for your darling, Stein was definitely the more famous topless played an active part in managing her literary career, including eventually managing the small press. They establish to publish times more unconventional works,
I totally support the kept Stein riding through the nineteen twenties and into the early Ninetys Thirty's although their salon was immensely popular and had become a sort of an incubator for avant garde, artists and writers who bore exceed. Mental and unconventional books, didn't really cell time, wanted literary glory and without topless, urging her on she may have given up in those years without it. Although people too to describe the two women as near opposites with Stein being the dominating force and the relationship Cocalus definitely held her own when she wanted to case in point. Ernest Hemingway made no secret of the fact that he wanted a sexual relationship with Gertrude Stein. Aus betokens having none of that and eventually got and cut him out of their social circle their relationship, though, also was not a continual high moon with never a crossword, multiple p, but you knew them commented on Stein in total
the ability to have really blistering fights nineteen. Thirty three Stein published her most commercially successful work and her only best seller. The auto by Murphy of Alice, be total, is. It is her most conventional book, except that it calls itself in autobiography and its for analysis, point of view, but Gertrude is the author and its largely about Gertrude. The book also gave Gertrude Stein a fair chance to write about herself as a genius without being like hey, I'm a genius example. Here is how and hopelessness voice Gertrude Stein wrote of their first meeting quote, I may say that only three times in my life have. I met a genius and each time a bell within me rang- and I was not mistaken and I may say, that in each case that was before there was any general recognition of the quality of genius and then the three
uses of whom I wish to speak, our Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Alfred Whitehead, the agri of Alice. Betokeneth also really emphasised. Gertrude Stein, purported personal, influence on the Cuba's a school of art, something highly offended. A great many cubist artists- there's pardon me that's like MA am I wish that kind of confidence, while both men had been well known in parisian, artistic and literary circles, book made, both of them internationally famous Stein, as its author and total, is as its purported subjects. They both travelled back to the EU it states since time could carry out, is sold out lecture tour. This was a huge publicity event that included newsreel appearances tee with lady. Eleanor Roosevelt and meat with such famous names is Charlie Chaplin,
This would also be stones. Last visit to the United States after a quick sponsor break we'll get to their lives during and after world war to you, which in what may surprise some listeners, the extent of which surprised me include they heavy dose of supporting the Bijou government and its collaboration with Nazi Germany. Hey, it's crazy everybody. Spending a lot of time on video conference calls these days, but during those long calls there's someone else. You'd, probably rather be connecting with you. Wanna be online with your fiends, that's right being
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Between the two world wars, Gertrude Stein and Alice Betokeneth kept up their life in Paris when they weren't enormous and wildly successful publicity tour they hold their salons. They travelled they kept on collecting art. They were also fond of than they had several as pets during their life together, and In thirty seven, they moved into a new apartment at five route, Christine at the start a war to Gertrude Stein and Alice, be toothless decided to stay in France, even though, as an elderly jewish couple with an enormous art collection. This was obviously very risky and it was Decision that they came too easily, they fretted back and forth about it through much of nineteen. Thirty, nine in nineteen forty ultimate Lee. They stayed, then they left Paris for the french countryside, where they had a house in building people ask them why they stayed
because I mean really. That is a lot of risk factors for being in France. During World war, to write that they have their age. The fact, they are gay. They have the huge art collection and, like all of us together and the answers that They were kind of like Gertrude Stein it was like. I didn't, want to travel and I'm thinking about my food at that. So I mean I see. How would we hardly french food behind? I do care so a lot of accounts Billy gloss over how they made this work, and The answer is that it was largely through their protection of Bernard V, who is high, ranking and openly anti semitic, Vichy Government official, quick the cap if anyone needs a brush up on this part of world war. Two the view the government was installed after France fell to Nazi Germany. It could. Operating with ceremony for the rest of the war and its named
The town of pvc, which effectively acted as the french capital during more to the vicious government deported seventy five thousand Jews to Nazi extermination camps now None of them survived when Vichy if a state Marshall Philly better ban secret societies and nineteen, forty finding himself compiled a list of Freemasons that lead to six thousand imprisonments, nearly a thousand d rotations and more than five hundred deaths, it's not here how much a phase work during the war Stein knew about. She probably did not know about this whole Freemason list, she certainly knew the jewish people were being rounded up and deported, but seeing in flames with Bernard Face, since nineteen six and then later on topless would call I am sometimes dearest friend
we then Stein and hopeless were left alone. Was they ve arranged it with Philly? Pretend Stein the connection with paternal as well. In nineteen thirty one. At five suggestion she translated a set of anti semitic speeches into English? She does herself as a propagandist for the Vichy government phase. Of style and hopeless extended to their parents apartment as well, while they were in Bolivia, the Gestapo broke to that apartment and they started packing up all the art for removal. A neighbor contacted the gendarme who arrived on the scene and asked these. Upload show their requisition orders for the paintings they didn't, have orders, which bought a little time while for ye arranged for the art to be left alone, has protection really extend to the rest of the apartment, though, and some of stones and focuses other possessions were alluded.
After the war fire was put on trial for his collaboration with Nazi Germany Stein wrote a letter in his defence. Add to all of this in a May six. Nineteen, thirty four. New York Times article Gertrude Stein is quoted. As saying quote, I say that Hitler ought to have the peace prize because he is removing all elements of contest and struggle from Germany by dry out the Jews and the democratic and left elements, he is driving out everything that conducive to activity. That means peace. The general consensus is that she probably meant this ironically, and given that stones, entire literary career, was about playing with and breaking the conventional rules of language, it was probably not intended to be can at face value, but her late. Support of patterns and the Vichy government and her defensive fatty make it to just dismiss that statement with. Oh, she was supposed to be ironic there.
Time is all of this. I mean she made steps early seemed to support fascism and and Lucy Government started totals were so both huge supporters of allied troops, Both. What do I want an world or to you? They, really think a lot of Americans the eyes under their wing acting almost as godmothers. Than letters posted her home and first Times part she wrote a lot of laudatory. Poems and story is about allied soldiers and France for resistance fighters during world or two we don't house dines views might have evolved after the horrors of the Holocaust, became more fully known now after the war she was diagnosed with what turned out to be inoperable stomach cancer. She died during surgery on July, twenty, seven, nineteen, forty six at the age of seventy two, by the time she died, her body of work included novels short stories. Poems plays
memoirs and opera libretto rose. She is buried perilous S, cemetery in Paris after stones, death, Alice, betokens convoy, two Catholicism saying that she hoped that she would meet Gertrude again in Heaven. She said that stones. Genius would have secured her a place. They are, even though she was a two took us also spent the rest of us. Life publishing and promoting sometimes work Einstein, was alive. Cocalus had never tried to. HEAT with her in the world of literature, but after means death. She publish multiple works of her own. Two of these works were cookbooks. The Alice Betokeneth book blends recipes and memoir giving says of the two women's life together, It also includes a recipe for how she fudge that was given to her by painter and performance artists, Brian guys, in the other cookbook all aromas and flavors of past and present a book of exquisite cooking, which is abortion.
Forward recipe book gear that feds recipe She was pretty I don't, I don't even know the best word. She was kind of white did about it later on issues like ice skater thy recipe, but then the that it was in the cook back made her almost a cult figure within the counterculture movement in the sixties. Topless also An actual memoir called what is remembered, which came out of nineteen sixty three and chronic, for nearly forty year relationship with Gertrude Stein, ending withstands death. I was beaten us Must work in magazines and newspapers as well there's time died totally often struggled to make ends meet aside from Picasso tread of Stein, which was bequeathed to the mat too had inherited merely the whole art collection, with Stein
a few Alan as CO beneficiary, though included. A provision that total is could sell pieces of the collection if she needed to She didn't really want to. She tried to keep us to the collection intact as she could and she live off the generosity of friends by nineteen The Alan Stein had died and his widow Rubinstein remove the paintings formed hopeless as apartment. While she was away in Rome and how put in a vault at Chase Manhattan Bank in Paris, Ravine Einstein's argument. Was it the apartment was not a safe place for these paintings and it True that, by this point, a lot of these pieces had become very valuable and they were uninsured and being kept in a private residence without a lot of security, but at the in time Rubinstein took those paintings while took was was away and she was motivated in part by total- is having sold some of the Picasso drawings, which she was allowed to do so totally
back from Rome to find an apartment with bare walls and she was ultimately evicted from that apartment because of her except the time away. So she was simultaneously without a home and without The option of selling off paintings to support herself took us at last year's or difficult she had very little money aims using increasingly poor health. In addition to having disabling cataracts and arthritis She died on March, seventh, one thousand nine hundred and sixty seven at the age of eighty nine, and now she is buried in Pere, Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Next to Gertrude Stein, later the rest of the art collection was sold to the Museum of Modern ART syndicate with a few pieces sold through art dealers, winds it's time died, she left her literary archives to the barn, Ikey, rare books and manuscripts Library at Yale University in London
papers are made public for the first time in the nineteen eightys which led to the publication of baby precious always shines, selected, love notes between Gertrude Stein and Alice Betokens, which was edited by Kay Turner and came out in nineteen. Ninety nine. These notes are mostly Stein, and eight of them are from topless. So too close out here is one of these notes, which was from Gertrude to Alice quote dear. It is now queer that I love her here here in my heart. In me, all through the only way to an episode that had an upsetting Not only is it enough territory, yes, I mean if it becomes one of those engaged in pieces of history ray we're, it's a figure that a lot of people have looked up to we enjoy them. It is hard to face some of the negative parts. A person's life but implies
I knew that that that they had basically buddy. To survive in France in the position that they were in because they were protected by this one BC. Government official and then I think, a lot of people can conceptualize and it doesn't create a ton of cognitive dissonance because, like ok, you need to survive. This person had the ability to help you, you might accept their help and it's like, I'm from your safe arm chair to be like, oh, I would never do that because that would violate my principles, but you don't actually know but like winning I didn't see you oh and then she was translating all of these anti semitic speeches and English, and she made a number of statements that obviously with it would seem to be in support of fascism. Bats
that's. When I went no man, I did not realize you're. Gonna ruin Gertrude Stein first than people today pays them for joining us on a Saturday, since this episode is out of the archive- and he heard an email address or facebook url or something similar over the course of the show that could be obsolete. Now current email address is history. Podcast at I heart, radio dot com are old house where's, my email address, no longer works. You can find us out social media at missed in history, and you can
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Transcript generated on 2021-03-09.