Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Howard Greenfeld divides Gertrude Stein: A Biography into ten chapters that consider Stein’s life, writing, and influence in chronological order from her birth in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on February 3, 1874, to her death in Paris on July 7, 1946. Some chapters are as short as three pages, while others are more than twenty. The details of Stein’s early life are covered concisely but accurately and with sufficient gusto that readers obtain an accurate sense of the young author’s unusual childhood. The book is illustrated with photographs that capture the essence of Stein extremely well.

The year after Stein’s brother, Leo, entered Harvard University in 1892, Gertrude matriculated at Harvard’s women’s institution, Radcliffe College. A short, pudgy girl with extremely bright, intense eyes, Stein studied under giants in their fields. Greenfeld identifies her major influences, however, as coming from Hugo Münsterberg, an experimental psychologist, and from William James, the most distinguished philosopher-psychologist in the United States.

Upon her graduation from Radcliffe, Stein, having lost her parents years before, entered The Johns Hopkins Medical School and lacked one course for graduation when she decided to live in Paris on the small income that her inheritance provided. She embarked on a serious, experimental writing career, seeking to represent the inner psychological states of her characters in accurate detail.


(The entire section is 477 words.)