Thursday, January 27, 2005

More Alice B. Toklas

As a Henry James fan, I wanted to also mention this quote (page 74):

"In the same way she contends that Henry James was the first person in literature to find the way to the literary methods of the twentieth century. But oddly enough in all of her formative period she did not read him and was not interested in him. But as she often says one is always naturally antagonistic to one's parents and sympathetic to one's grandparents. The parents are too close, they hamper you, one must be a lone. So perhaps that is the reason why only very lately Gertrude Stein reads Henry James."

I love her ideas about writing. She also talks later on in Autobiography about how good poetry or prose is not based in emotion, but in "an exact reproduction of either an outer or inner reality." I can see this principle at work in both Gertrude Stein and Henry James. It is the source of what some readers might call their sterility. I would call it objectivity, myself.


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