SUMMER SPECIAL: Reading Gertrude Stein (6th Aug 14)

We’re having a summer special on Wednesday 6th August 2014, 7pm in preparation for a performance at Matt’s Gallery by artist Lizzie Hughes. Come along!

‘I’ve Never Read Her’ book club reading short fiction and essays by women.
Reading: The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein ( download the extract here > The Making of Americans).

In describing English literature I have explained that the twentieth 
century was the century not of sentences as was the eighteenth not of 
phrases as was the nineteenth but of paragraphs. And as I explained 
paragraphs were inevitable because as the nineteenth century came to 
its ending, phrases were no longer full of any meaning and the time had 
come when a whole thing was all there was of anything. Series immediately
before and after made everybody clearly understand this thing. 
And so it was natural that in writing The Making of Americans I had 
proceeded to enlarge my paragraphs so as to include everything. What 
else could I do. In fact inevitably I made my sentences and my para- 
graphs do the same thing, made them be one and the same thing. This 
was inevitably because the nineteenth century having lived by phrases 
really had lost the feeling of sentences, and before this in English 
literature paragraphs had never been an end in themselves and now in the 
beginning of the twentieth century a whole thing, being what was assembled
from its parts was a whole thing and so it was a paragraph. 
You will see that in The Making of Americans I did this thing, I made 
a paragraph so much a whole thing that it included in itself as a whole 
thing a whole sentence. That makes something clear to you does it not. 

Gertrude Stein

The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress is a modernist novel by Gertrude Stein. The novel traces the genealogy, history, and psychological development of members of the fictional Hersland and Dehning families. Stein also includes frequentmetafictional meditations on the process of writing the text that periodically overtake the main narrative.

Stein wrote the bulk of the novel between 1903 and 1911, and evidence from her manuscripts suggests three major periods of revision during that time. The manuscript remained mostly hidden from public view until 1924 when, at the urging of Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford agreed to publish excerpts in the transatlantic review. In 1925, the Paris-based Contact Press published a limited run of the novel consisting of 500 copies. A much-abridged edition was published by Harcourt Brace in 1934, but the full version remained out of print until Something Else Press republished it in 1966. In 1995, a new, definitive edition was published by Dalkey Archive Press with a foreword by William Gass.

The Making of Americans is a 926 page novel. An extract from the start of the novel is attached which we will be reading and discussing at the reading group. The Dalkey Archive Press edition is available to buy here:

Artist Lizzie Hughes is proposing a complete reading of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans on Saturday 23 August 3 – 6pm in X Marks the Bökship at Matt’s Gallery. The near1,000 page novel will be divided into approximately twenty sections which will be read out loud, concurrently by volunteers.

The book is 900 pages so for those who still like to come but can’t quite get through all that in time here’s a short extract from The Making of Americans.

X Marks the Bökship
^ Matt’s Gallery
42 – 44 Copperfield Road
Mile End
London E3 4RR


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