Being and Stein: The Temporal Insistence of Existence in Gertrude Stein's Early Portraits

Ella Bedard

Abstract


In this essay Ella Bedard takes on the most recalcitrant oeuvre of literary portraiture – the portraits of Gertrude Stein:

One whom some were certainly following was one who was completely charming. One whom some were certainly following was one who was charming. One whom some were following was one who was completely charming. One whom some were following was one who was certainly completely charming.

What can one make of this opacity? Does it really represent Picasso? And what would “interpretation” of such a work look like? Ignoring most readers’ instincts to run in the opposite direction from these texts, Bedard deftly works with ideas of mimesis, arguing that Stein’s portraits are not about describing the person, but about invoking the person’s presence. In getting to that essence, readers need to understand that what looks like repetition here is not really repetition; for it has a relationship to time that must be properly understood.

-Dr. Leonard Diepeveen


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