The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Carl Van Vechten, 1913-1946: Two Volumes
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Both in her lifetime and since, Gertrude Stein's persona received far more attention than her writings. The result was a distorted view of both her person and her work. This monumental two-volume set of her correspondence with Carl Van Vechten, the critic novelist, and photographer, offers new insight into Stein's life, her art, and the intellectual and artistic milieu of Paris. These letters also follow Van Vechten's various careers: particularly his championship of the Harlem Renaissance. The existing biographies of Stein, and even her own autobiographical writings, omit a great deal. While fleshed out with famous names and anecdotes, they lack the ordinary detail of what Stein called 'daily everyday living': the immediate concerns, objects, people, and places that were grist for her writing.These letters provide the detail of daily life and recover aspects of Stein's and Van Vechten's private selves as writers that are often lost in the rush to glamorize them. What is especially satisfying about this edition is its completeness. By providing both sides of this extraordinary correspondence - the longest continuous correspondence of Stein's life - our knowledge of STein's and Van Vechten's lives, their art, and their times is significantly enhanced. The letters have been transcribed to retain the characteristics of each writer's style. Readers of this volume will benefit greatly from Edward Burns' lively and exhaustive annotations, which include scrupulous cross-referencing to source materials.