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Description - Gertrude Stein, Modernism and the Problem of Genius by Barbara Will

Gertrude Stein frequently called herself a genius, but what did this term really mean for her? Stein's claims to genius are legendary, appearing frequently throughout her texts and public lectures. Were they the signs of excessive egotism, of desperate self-advertisement, or of something else entirely? This book examines the centrality and the specificity of the idea of "genius" to Stein's work and to the aesthetic ideals and contradictory intellectual affiliations of high modernism in general. Through a chronological reading, it maps Stein's move from an early investment in an essential and essentialising notion of "genius" to the later use of the term to describe an anti-essentialist, democratic textual process. It considers how this revisionary idea of "genius" came to correspond with Stein's identificaiton of herself as Jewish, queer and American. And it ends with Stein's seemingly paradoxical decision to call a text about being a genius in America, "Everybody's Autobiography". Drawing upon a wide range of literary theory, cultural criticism and historical evidence, and offering new readings of previously unexamined texts by Stein, Barbara Will challenges received understandings of Stein's claims to "genius" and of modernist literary hermeticism by reconceptualising the textual practice of this exemplary modernist writer.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780748611980
ISBN-10: 0748611983
Format: Hardback
(234mm x 156mm x 25mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Edinburgh University Press
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Publish Date: 1-May-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Barbara Will

Barbara Will is assistant professor of English, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.