Tuesday, 27 May 2008

A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose


Avant-garde writer and culture impresario Gertrude Stein was a solid, heavy presence, monolithic, unladylike. She liked to gossip and a good laugh. She boxed with welterweights for exercise. Alice B. Toklas was a chain smoker with a slight moustache, given to exotic dress, gypsy earrings and manicured nails. They became inseparable after they met in Paris in 1907. Alice cooked, typed manuscripts, fended off the unwanted, did promotions and chatted up the wives and significant others of famous men, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway who found her "frightening". On a lecture tour of American universities in the 1930s, Stein would begin her obscure lectures with the following words: “I am I because my little dog knows me but perhaps he does not and if he did I would not be. ” She insisted, there are two selves: an external "I," whom a pet may recognize as its master and an interior "I" that exists independent of observation. She would conclude that "I am I because my little dog knows me but that does not prove anything about you it only proves something about the dog". Say what?

7 comments:

Winchester whisperer said...

But what was her little dog? The one in the photo looks quite large.

jmb said...

Scratching my head here Eurodog. But they were two fascinating ladies, walking to the beat of their own drummer.

Eurodog said...

WW,
You are right. The picture was taken during the war. Stein and Toklas rented a house in the Rhône-Alpes region where they were protected by a collaborator and Vichy ally.

VioletsVintage said...

I think she was complimenting her dog on his ability to size up people..maybe?

Eurodog said...

VV,
Perhaps but I think she was slightly ( sic ) eccentric so it could mean anything, I think.

Flowerpot said...

Yes that;s how i took it - but hey, what's the matter with eccentricity?!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Two fascinating ladies, indeed. But still working out the meaning of the quote, though!