Re: Gertrude Stein
I've looked over a few articles on the web and although, not ideal, I get an impression of *how* Stein has been received, and the aims of her poetry. The 'not much read' is a slightly damning aspect IMO. But that aside, there are some who simply thought that she was bonkers, and it was a bonkers that was typical of that 20s generation, and I have some sympathy with that particular viewpoint.
I recall a quote by Ben Jonson the playwright, he said, "language most shows the man, speak so I may know thee", and I feel that this applies to Stein, her writing which asks us to create definition or do this or that, fails, if we simply say "No!"
By contrast, if you look at a work which succeeded, eventually, Moby Dick.
Melville began by writing popular adventure stories, such as Billy Budd and so forth and his readers at the time liked these so when MD was first published, the faithful found a similar style and story to what they were used to, a ripping good yarn, in the opening chapter but after a while having hooked them in, Melville veers away and becomes complex and obscure.
That great "booming voice" as some critics refer to it, takes over.
However, unlike Stein, the world was intially wrong about Melville and he died having never seen the books success, and MD is now considered by many to be the greatest novel written in English, and so on and so forth.
Stein however, has been forgotten. I think we see the effect of her experiments in modern fiction, mostly via Hemingway, who I have to say I don't particularly enjoy for the same reasons.
What I love about language is that in cases like Stein, the language, instead of being at the service of her pen, seems to slyly turn around and reveal to us what she is, instead of prose which seeks to not call attention to itself or achieve this or that, the "experimental" here seems to present itself, at least in part, as a window into Stein's mind.
Perhaps this is because language belongs to us all at some fundamental level and can feel or sense when we are being led into something obscurantist, to borrow your earlier word.
The 1920s was a strange time, the so-called "Lost Generation".
Last edited by Hamlet; 20-Jul-2012 at 10:16.
"Man cannot do without beauty, and this is what our era pretends to want to disregard"
Myth of Sysyphus ~ by Albert Camus