Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Gertrude Stein, a real person and a fictional character in her book. Because the reader is to assume that the autobiography was written by Alice, much can be said about Gertrude that she could not very well say about herself. For example, at the beginning of the story the general tone of the book is set. Alice announces, “The three geniuses of whom I wish to speak are Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Alfred Whitehead.” It is unfortunate that readers are never informed of the topics discussed by these geniuses. As a real and a fictional character, Gertrude can express her personal opinions on the work of other artists, if she is so inclined. She was fond of Sherwood Anderson, Thornton Wilder, and Virgil Thomson and expressed her admiration for them without reservation. With the young Ernest Hemingway, it was different. When he first arrived in Paris in 1922, he sought Gertrude’s help, and she gladly assisted him. When Hemingway became famous and failed to pay proper homage to his mentors, Gertrude and Sherwood Anderson in particular, she showed how bitter and vitriolic she could be toward this upstart whom she had to teach the fundamental concept that “remarks are not literature.” There are many stories so filled with humor that readers can only believe them to be fiction. For example, when Gertrude and Alice were performing volunteer work with the American Fund for the French Wounded, they had to supply their own car and...
(The entire section is 543 words.)
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Anderson (1876–1941) is an American novelist who visits Stein and Toklas in Paris. Stein and Anderson joke about Hemingway, saying he ‘‘had been formed’’ by the two of them. Anderson is best known for his collection of connected stories, Winesburg, Ohio. Hemingway writes him a long letter at one point telling him that he does not like Anderson’s work, but Anderson is not fazed by it.
Apollinaire (1880–1918) is ‘‘very attractive and very interesting,’’ ‘‘extraordinarily brilliant,’’ and a friend of Stein’s. Born in Rome in 1880, Apollinaire was a key figure in the French avantgarde. He wrote essays on cubist painters and experimented with varying tones and registers in his poetry. Toklas notes that when he died, ‘‘everybody ceased to be friends.’’
Braque (1882–1963), is an occasional guest at Stein’s gatherings and, along with Picasso, developed cubism. Toklas relates a story in which Braque, a French war hero, punches an art dealer who deliberately keeps the prices of cubist paintings at a government auction low in order to ‘‘kill cubism.’’
Cézanne (1839–1906), often called the father of modern art, was a French painter, one of the first post-impressionists, known for his innovative use of color and perspective. He was a friend of Stein’s and was...
(The entire section is 1677 words.)