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The making of Americans : being a history of…
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The making of Americans : being a history of a family's progress. (original 1934; udgave 1906)

af Gertrude. Stein

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439356,016 (3.13)39
In "The Making of Americans," Gertrude Stein sets out to tell "a history of a family's progress," radically reworking the traditional family saga novel to encompass her vision of personality and psychological relationships. As the history progresses over three generations, Stein also meditates on her own writing, on the making of "The Making of Americans," and on America.… (mere)
Medlem:hildadoolittle
Titel:The making of Americans : being a history of a family's progress.
Forfattere:Gertrude. Stein
Info:Paris : Three Mountains Press, 1906-1908.
Samlinger:Pearson's list, Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Making of Americans af Gertrude Stein (1934)

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As I was Saying, "The Making of Americans", y'know?
- tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

review of the Dalkey Archive's 925 pp edition of Gertrude Stein's
"The Making of Americans"
- read from March 14, 2009 to May 22, 2009 (70 days)

THIS IS THE CAPSULE REVIEW. FOR THE FULL REVIEW SEE THE "tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE's writing" accessible thru my GoodReads profile @: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1054095.tENTATIVELY_a_cONVENIENCE
or by going directly to: http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/42323.As_I_was_Saying_The_Making_of_American...

I finished it. The entire thing. As I was saying, it is finished. As I was saying I read all of Gertrude Stein's truly mind-bogglingly tediously self-indulgent & largely contentless "The Making of Americans". As I was saying, all 925 pages of it the 29 pages of the Foreword & the Introduction. I AM THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD TO EVER DO THIS. I don't believe the author of the Foreword, William H. Gass, has read all of it. As I was saying, I don't believe the author of the Introduction, Steven Meyer, has done this thing. As I was saying, I don't think the editor(s) of the Dalkey Archive have done this thing. As I was saying, I don't believe it. Maybe Alice B. Toklas did it, maybe. It is claimed that Alice B. Toklas typed all this for Stein.

Wch isn't to say that Gass's Foreword isn't excellent, wch isn't to say that Meyer's Introduction isn't even more excellent. As I was saying, both are excellent. Nonetheless, Meyer claims that "the author-narrator who, despite being unnamed, is perhaps Stein's most significant creation" [p xxvi:]. Furthermore, "The narrator of "The Making of Americans" is as much a creation of Stein's as is Melanctha" & "Readers are likely to forget this, however, and to attribute "characteristics" belonging to Stein to the narrator" [p xxvii:]. As I was saying, Meyer's claim is that a narrator exists who isn't Stein. While I'm sure Meyer has great scholarly knowledge to back this up I'm not convinced. To me, Stein is clearly the narrator & no effort is made whatsoever to create any presence contrary to this.

Stein's writing reminds me of 3 main things:

1. A friend I had who began almost every conversation w/ "You're not mad at me are you?". He had a problem. His problem was that he had about 10 phrases that he repeated. Over & over. As I was saying, he repeated them. Over & over. He repeated his sentences over & over. One wasn't mad at him the 1st time he sd "You're not mad at me are you?". One was probably not made at him the 2nd & 3rd times that he sd "You're not mad at me are you?". But as he repeated it over & over one got increasingly mad. "I told you that I wasn't fucking mad at you but now I'm getting pretty fucking sick of you asking me "You're not mad at me are you?" so will you please shut the fuck up?!" "You're not mad at me are you?"

2. Speech Crutches

3. Charles Berlitz's bk "The Bermuda Triangle". Why? B/c in this latter Berlitz has a few chapters worth of material wch he somehow manages to stretch into an entire bk by just rephrasing the same old sensationalist (but somehow simultaneously tepid) crap over & over. Just like Stein. "The Making of Americans" is 925pp. If one were to synopsize its content it wd surely be less than 100pp, maybe less than 50.

SO, let's give Stein the benefit of the doubt, let's say that the bk's content is NOT in its 'content' but in the telling of its content. What did I get from this telling? That Stein was a relentlessly arrogant person - assured that her blithering was somehow worth it. I don't agree. The Dalkey Archive shd be ashamed of killing off however many trees were sacrificed for the printing of this. As I was saying.

P 198: "Repeating then is always coming out of every one, almost always in the repeating in every one and coming out of them there is a little changing. All the repeating in each one makes a history of each one always coming out of them. There is always repeating in every one but such repeating has almost always in it a little changing, the whole repeating then that is always coming the whole repeating that comes out of them every one who has living in them and coming out from each one is a whole history of each one."

That cd be called the claim that justifies the whole 'structure' of the bk. Although I've only presented one small paragraph here - DON'T GET THE IMPRESSION THAT SHE EXACTLY MOVES ON FROM THIS & 'DEVELOPS' IT. I claim that she doesn't. She makes a few shallow statements & then permutes them. They never become less shallow. Perhaps the repetitions of a person can be used to define what's most common in that person. Big deal. A person has routines & habits wch, somewhat, make who they are.. But, "coming out from each one is a whole history of each one"? Nah.. I don't think so. Everything is infinitely complicated, Stein makes it redundantly stupid. For 925 pages.

Now every time I'll quote Stein here & every time Gass does & every time Meyer does the quote is fairly short & out-of-context. It's interesting by virtue of its 'exoticness', its unusual wording in contrast to Gass' & Meyer's & my writing styles. But, for me, that 'exoticness' wore off quickly. Like almost immediately. Then it just became as tedious as my friend's "You're not mad at me are you?". What do I learn from it? That my friend had an abusive childhood that left him severely neurotic & paranoid? That Stein was wealthy & spoiled & egomaniacal & insensitive to others around her?

[..:]

Whatever. If you're expecting some magnum opus of detailed classification of human psychological types, FORGET IT. Stein's always beginning & getting nowhere. We 'learn' that there are, according to Stein "independent dependent" & "dependent independent" types & the development that these categories get cd be reduced to a few sentences - but, in "The Making of Americans" it goes on & on for hundreds of pages. There's "resisting", there's "attacking". That's about it.

As I was saying, WHATEVER. So she likes the repeating, so she repeats, & repeats. It reminds me of when I used to spend Thanksgiving at my mom's house. The same guests wd be there, the food was great, the conversation abysmal. Every yr I thought of just recording it & playing it back the next yr. Why? B/c i wanted to demonstrate that IT NEVER CHANGED. As such, no-one, except myself, every sd ANYTHING that wasn't just a formula, a fake form of conversation that just involved repeating whatever was 'appropriate' to their Personality Type. The MISSIONARY (yes there was one) spouted her missionary dogma, my mom was neurotic, etc.. I stopped attending.

[..:]

I keep alluding to Stein as a spoiled rich one whose lifestyle wd've never enabled her to write this magnum poopus if she hadn't been taken care of her whole life, if she'd had to actually do something useful for other people for a living. & on page 717 we get to one support for this argument: "I was paying that one for teaching me that thing, the thing I was needing just then. Once I was saying to this one I will not be paying you to-day, I will pay you in three weeks, you will wait till then, I said to this one. This one said yes I will wait till then, but I am now asking you to tell me what you are meaning when you are saying to me and to yourself then that you have not money to pay me to-day for this thing. Do you mean that you cannot get the money to pay me to-day, is that what you are meaning, that you cannot get it to-day if you need it to day is that your meaning. I said no that is not my meaning, I mean that I have not the money to-day and that I will have it in three weeks that is what I am meaning by what I am saying. You mean you will not get it to-day because you are feeling you are not really needing to have it to-day that is your meaning, said that one. No I said that is not the way to understand this thing, I have not got the money to-day and I will have in three weeks from to-day, my brother sends me the money every month that is what I mean by what I am saying. That is what my meaning is said that one, you are needing the money to-day to your feeling, I am needing the money today to-day we will say to my feeling but you do not need the money to-day to your feeling, that is what you are meaning, money is a thing like working you are giving it when you are feeling that you are needing the money to be giving it, I am giving work because I am needing money to be receiving it, said this one. I had a confused feeling then. Money was something I was owning yes, but not owning because it was like being in myself that I needed to be living, having money was as natural to me then as being in living and I could not be spending in irregularly, I must spend it as an income, I had it yes but not give except when regularly I had some." ETC!

In other words, Stein hires someone to do something, they do it, but then Stein postpones paying them b/c she wants the money for herself! If the person hired had broken Stein's arms it wd've been fine w/ me but that person wd've gone to jail & Stein wd've been legally the victim. Too bad Stein didn't live in Mexico during the revolution. NOW, here's the beginning of a section of her wikipedia entry:

"Political views

Gertrude was politically ambiguous, but clear on at least two points: she disapproved of unemployment when she had trouble getting servants (Hobhouse, 1975, p.209), and she had "a general dislike of father figures". (Ibid.)

As for the unemployed she said,
“ 'It is curious very curious ... that when there is a great deal of unemployment and misery you can never find anybody to work for you.' 'But that is natural enough ... because if everybody is unemployed everybody loses the habit of work, and work like revolutions is a habit it just naturally is.' ”

(Ibid., with citations to Gertrude Stein's words in Everybody's Biography)."

Are you picking up what I'm putting down? Stein was rich, Stein didn't work for it, Stein had time to jerk off w/ this self-indulgent largely contentless writing all day long while Toklas did the work for her &, yet, Stein had contempt for the unemployed. A wise one? Hardly. "It is curious [..:] that when there is a great deal of unemployment and misery you can never find anybody to work for you." Maybe you shd've tried paying them in a timely manner, asshole; maybe you shd've realized that you were a completely privileged & largely stupid autocratic creep & that these 'servants' probably didn't want to be around you b/c they cdn't stand being reminded so brutally of how unfair it all is. Maybe they knew they'd want to rip you to pieces & serve that fat cat body to their starving children. Maybe you wd've deserved it! Eat the Rich, Feed the Poor!

I remember seeing a movie about Stein in 1987 w/ my friends Laura & Martha. We were riding the bus (yes, the public transportation system) home & I sd something to the effect of "I think I wd've hated Gertrude Stein but I like the writing." & that's still sortof true. The writing still exerts a peripheral fascination w/ its oddness. & I might read something shorter by her. But I highly DON'T RECOMMEND "The Making of Americans" as I was saying.

Page 821: "David Hersland knew some who were living while he was being living. He was with some of them very often. Some were pleased to be with him very often. Some were pleased to be with him but they were not with him very often. Some were certain that anyone might be pleased to be with him quite often. Some were certain that not any one would be pleased to be with him very often. Some certainly were with him very often. Some were certainly very pleased to be with him very often. Some were with him very often, some were not pleased to be with him very often. Some were with him quite often, some of such of them were very pleased to be with him. Some were with him quite often, some of such of them were not pleased to be with him. Some were very certain that some one would be very pleased to be with him very often. Sometimes some one was very pleased to be with him very often."

Isn't that the writerly voice of someone who just likes to hear themselves talk? Over & over? DAVID HERSLAND KNEW PEOPLE. SOME OF THEM LIKED HIM, SOME DIDN'T. It's that simple & it's completely uninteresting to me. It's at times like these when I long for Hemingway's sparseness.

A tiny excerpt from alot more of the same: "When he was not such a young one sometimes he was with one. Sometimes he was with six. Sometimes he was with more than six. Sometimes he was with two. Sometimes he was with three." DAVID HUNG AROUND PEOPLE IN VARYINGLY SIZED GROUPS.

Page 862: "He was being living every day. In a way he was needing to be certain he was being living every day he was being living. He was being living every day he was being living. He was being living every day until he was not being living which was at the end of the beginning of the middle of being living. He was being living every day." ETC. HE DIED WHEN HE WAS MIDDLE-AGED. This wd've been more interesting to me if the reader wd've discovered that, actually, David Hersland wasn't really alive, he was just a fictional character, but we were reading about him anyway - or that he was a ghost like in Flann O'Brien's great "The Third Policeman". But Stein didn't have the analysis of the wit for either of those - so, instead, we get "He was being living every day until he was not being living which was at the end of the beginning of the middle of being living." What a bore. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
With a good X-acto knife, some one can put something inside it. They can use it, and live it, and I know it. Repeating is often irritating. And to begin again. Repeating can be irritating. ( )
  irrelephant | Feb 21, 2021 |
“I haven’t seen Gertrude Stein since last fall. Her Making of Americans is one of the very greatest books I’ve ever read.”

Letter to Sherwood Anderson, 1926
Selected Letters, pg. 206
  ErnestHemingway | Jan 1, 2009 |
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In "The Making of Americans," Gertrude Stein sets out to tell "a history of a family's progress," radically reworking the traditional family saga novel to encompass her vision of personality and psychological relationships. As the history progresses over three generations, Stein also meditates on her own writing, on the making of "The Making of Americans," and on America.

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