Gertrude Stein: Writings 1932-1946 (Stanzas in Meditation, Lectures in America, The Geographical History of America, Ida, Brewsie and Willie, Other Works) (Library of America)

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The Library of America series reached its 100th volume with the publication of this magnificent Stein duo, which contain Three Lives and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas among an amalgam of her fiction, poetry, plays, memoirs, and lectures. A sumptuous feast. (Classic Returns, LJ 3/15/98)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781883011413
  • Publisher: Library of America
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Series: Library of America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 864
  • Sales rank: 789,127
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, on February 3, 1874, to an affluent Jewish family, spent her early childhood in Vienna and Paris, and later grew up in Oakland, California. At Radcliffe College she studied under William James, who remained her lifelong friend, and then went to Johns Hopkins to study medicine. Abandoning her studies, she moved to Paris with her brother Leo in 1903. At 27 rue de Fleurus, Gertrude Stein lived with Alice B. Toklas, who would remain her companion for forty years. Not only was she an innovator in literature and a supporter of modern poetry and art, she was the friend and mentor of those who visited her at her now-famous home: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jean Cocteau, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, and Guillaume Appollinaire. Her first important book was Three Lives (1909), then Tender Buttons (1914), followed by her magnum opus, The Making of Americans (1925), and the book which became a huge popular success, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933). Just before her death at the age of 72 on July 27, 1946, she asked Alice Toklas from her hospital bed, “What is the answer?” Getting no answer, she then asked, “In that case, what is the question?”
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First Chapter

BREWSIE AND WILLIE

You know Willie, said Brewsie, I think we are all funny, pretty funny, about this fraternisation business, now just listen. They did not have to make any anti-fraternisation ruling for the German army in France because although the Germans did their best to fraternise, no French woman would look or speak to them or recognise their existence. I kind of wonder would our women be like French or be like Germans, if the horrible happened and our country was conquered and occupied.

Willie: Well I wouldn't want any American woman to be like a Frenchwoman. Brewsie: No you would want them to be like the Germans, sleep with the conquerors.

Willie: You get the hell out of here, Brewsie. No American woman would sleep with a foreigner.

Brewsie: But you admire the Germans who do. Which do you want American women to be like.

Willie: I know what I dont want them to be like, I dont want them to be like any lousy foreigner.

Brewsie: But all your fathers and mothers were lousy foreigners.

Willie: You get the hell out of here, Brewsie. What's that to you, I am going to sleep with any German wench who'll sleep with me and they all will.

Brewsie: Sure they all will but all the same if the horrible happened and our country was defeated and occupied, how about it.

Willie: Well our country isnt going to be defeated and occupied, that's all there is to that.

Brewsie: Yes but you never can tell in a war.

Willie: And that's the reason there aint going to be any more war not if I can help it.

Brewsie: But if you cant help it.

Willie: I'll see to it that I do help it, there aint going to be any more war.

Brewsie: But that's what they said last time and hell here we are.

Willie: Well did I say we werent here, we're here all right, you betcha we're here, and I am going to sleep with any German girl who'll sleep with me, and they all will and that's what I call fraternisation, and they let us do it and we're doing it.

Brewsie: But Willie listen.

Willie: Aint I listening, aint I always listening, you're always talking and I am always listening.

Brewsie: Well anyway, Willie, just listen.

While Brewsie talked, it was not alone Willie who sometimes listened, there were others more or less listening, Jo, and Bob and Ralph and Don and there was Brock, he was older, he liked to talk about how his father and mother moved from one house to another and what illnesses they had had and what it did to them and what flowers his mother grew and that she was fond of cooking and eating, and that he was not the only child but they did like him that is to say he was interested in everything they wrote to him and was natural enough because although he had been married, he did not know whether he was married now or not, anyway he did listen to Brewsie, because Brewsie was really very interesting and had a lot to say that was interesting and he, whenever he Brock had time, he did listen to him, he was a good chap Brewsie and had a lot to say that was really interesting.

Listen, said Brewsie, listen to me. I want to know why do you fellows feel the way you do.

Jo: Oh go way Brewsie, dont you know we're disillusioned, that's what we are, disillusioned, that's the word, aint it, fellows, disillusioned.

All of 'em: Sure, that's the word, disillusioned.

Brock: No no I am not disillusioned, as long as my mother is fond of flowers, and she is and fond of cooking as she is and fond of eating as she is, and likes to move into other houses which she does I could never be that word I could never be disillusioned. No, Jo, no, no no, and I think you all know I mean it I do I never could be disillusioned.

Willie: Take me away, that man makes me crazy. I just cant stand another minute of it, take me away.

Brewsie: All right, Willie, let's go. Come along, Jo.

Jo: Yes I got to go to the river to wait on a girl.

Brewsie: Where is she.

Jo: She is gone home to eat but I said I'd sit on the river bank and wait and I'm going to, want to come along.

Willie: There aint two.

Jo: No there aint but one, want to come along.

Brewsie: Let's all three go.

Jo: That's all right with me.

Look, said Willie, there comes a man-eating dog.

It was a dark day but it did not rain. The dog was white and gentle. That is what Willie said.

Brewsie does talk to himself, he said to himself, how can I be interested in how many people will be killed or how much property will be destroyed in the next war, how many people will be killed in the next war.

They went on to the river. It is not always easy to sail a sailboat up a river.

That made them talk about what they did remember, steering an airplane. Some of them sighed, it made them sigh because they liked it. It was like sleeping in a bed, it made them sigh, it did make them sigh because they liked it.

I remember, he said, he said, I remember.

They saw three others coming along, one of them said, what we doing just walking, aint anybody going to buy anything.

Brewsie remembered about buying, there was a time when anybody could buy something that is if he had money with him. Brewsie said that spending money if you had it, well it was just spending money and spending money was not only easy as anything it was more than anything.

I know what you mean, said Willie.

I do too, said Jo, let's go buy something. We aint found anything to buy for the kind of money we got, said Willie, and then the girl came along. If you put your arm all over a girl, well any girl does any girl say, tell him I dont want him, but no girls do because there is chewing gum and tobacco and coffee and chocolate, yes there is. Does, said Brewsie, does any one want to buy anything if it can be given to them, if they can get it without buying. Nobody answered him, they were busy other ways.

It's a long war but it will end, said Brewsie, and then we will go home. Where's home, said a man just behind him.

What's your name, said Brewsie.

Paul is my name and if it aint Paul it's Donald, what do you want with my name.

I want to know how old you are and where you come from.

Oh get the hell out of here, said Donald Paul and then he sat down.

Let's, said Donald Paul, let's talk about beds. What kind of beds, said Brewsie. Oh any kind, the kind you sleep in, the kind you make for yourselves and the kind others make for you. A bed is a bed, just write that down if you know how to read and write, a bed's a bed. When you wish you were dead you always wish for a bed. Yes that's the way it is. Remember you know when they put you in prison they make you make your own bed. I just read about it this evening. Yes, said Brewsie, if there is a bed. Yeah you're right too, if there is a bed. And they both sighed not loud, not really at all. Anybody knows how long a day is when evening comes. They gather that they had rather not be able to sit than not.

Yes, said Brewsie, do be anxious.

It was almost as much aloud as that.

Donald Paul snorted.

Allowed, he said, allowed, what's allowed, anything that is allowed is just what they never said. There are, said Donald Paul, yes there are, said Brewsie. Are what, said Willie. Eight million unemployed any next year, said Jo. Oh go to hell out of here, said Willie and as he spoke he fell asleep just like that.

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