The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

by Gertrude Stein

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Write a short account of your life from the point of view of someone close to you. Then do the same from your own point of view. What differences do you notice?

Rewrite the first three pages of Stein’s book, eliminating all digressions, and using conventional punctuation. What is gained and lost in your version?

If Stein’s ‘‘autobiography’’ were a painting, what would it look like? Try painting it, or write a paper describing the painting.

With your class, make a chart listing the ten people in Stein’s book you would most like to meet, ranging from most to least. Provide reasons for your choices and then compare your list with others in the class. What does this tell you about how you value people?

Compare Hemingway’s story of his relationship with Stein in A Moveable Feast with Stein’s in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Which is more credible and why?

With three other students in your class, design an ideal space where you would invite artists and writers to discuss their work. In what section of town would it be located? Would it be an apartment, a loft? What would it look like and whom would you invite? Present your design and responses to your class.

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