This selection of Gertrude Stein's work is taken from the period between 1905 and 1936, when the iconic modernist poet was engaged in an astounding number of still-surprising literary experiments, whose innovations continue to influence all the arts. Editor Joan Retallack has chosen complete texts or selections that lend themselves to a clarified vision of Stein's oeuvre.
In her brilliant introduction, Retallack provides the historical and biographical context for Stein's lifelong project of composing a "continuous present," an effort which parallels many of the most important technological and scientific developments of her era—from moving pictures to Einstein's revision of our understanding of space and time. Retallack also addresses persistent questions about Stein's work and the best way to read it in our contemporary moment.
In suggesting a performative "reading poesis" for these works, Retallack follows Stein's dictum by arguing that to actively experience the work is to enjoy it, and to enjoy it is to understand it.