(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Stein’s word portraits “Matisse” and “Picasso” appeared in a special issue of Camera Work in New York City in 1912. The publisher, Alfred Stieglitz, was an accomplished photographer who devoted his life to making photography a creative art. Stieglitz had not quite understood the pieces, which was why he immediately decided to publish them. In doing so, he introduced Stein’s writing to the United States.

Stein was as much a historical figure as a celebrated writer. She and Picasso each created famous portraits of the other. Hers was in words. She had ample time to observe Picasso in the winter of 1906, when she posed for him some eighty times while he struggled to complete his portrait of her. Dissatisfied with his depiction of her head, Picasso departed for Spain. When he returned, he painted it in rapidly. When Stein cut her hair, friends worried that the famous portrait, which hung on the wall of her apartment, no longer resembled her. Picasso’s reply was that he had painted Stein as she would come to look.

Stein’s description of Picasso employs constant repetition to suggest the presence of someone doggedly moving forward. Picasso is portrayed as being ahead of others, and others are following his example, but he is not aware of his direction, only of the fact that he is moving. Stein’s hypnotic, repetitious sentences suggest that Picasso is a man plodding along, his eyes on the work before him, working to bring...

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(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Gertrude Stein. New York: Chelsea House, 1986.

Bowers, Jane Palatini. Gertrude Stein. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.

Brinnin, John Malcom. The Third Rose: Gertrude Stein and Her World. Boston: Little, Brown, 1959.

Curnutt, Kirk, ed. The Critical Response to Gertrude Stein. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000.

DeKoven, Marianne. A Different Language: Gertrude Stein’s Experimental Writing. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.

Dubnick, Randa. The Structure of Obscurity: Gertrude Stein, Language, and Cubism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984.

Dydo, Ulla E. Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises: 1923-1934. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2003.

Hoffman, Michael J. Gertrude Stein. Boston: Twayne, 1976.

Kellner, Bruce, ed. A Gertrude Stein Companion. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Knapp, Bettina. Gertrude Stein. New York: Continuum, 1990.

Pierpont, Claudia Roth. Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Ruddick, Lisa. Reading Gertrude Stein: Body, Text, Gnosis. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990.

Simon, Linda. Gertrude Stein Remembered. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

Watson, Dana Cairns. Gertrude Stein and the Essence of What Happens. Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 2005.

Will, Barbara. Gertrude Stein, Modernism, and the Problem of “Genius.” Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000.