Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Production and reproduction: Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)

Rosenquist, R. (2016) Production and reproduction: Gertrude Stein (1874-1946). In: Franssen, G. and Honings, R. (eds.) Celebrity Authorship and Afterlives in English and American Literature :. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 133-155.

Item Type: Book Section
Abstract: Literary scholarship provides ample exploration of Gertrude Stein the experimental writer and her artistic coterie circles, largely focusing on her early limited-circulation publications and her Paris salon, but is also beginning to establish a clear outline of Gertrude Stein the celebrity and her mass markets, particularly those based in America. This chapter will focus on the moments when the two Steins met one another – first, in the reception of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, but more particularly in the circumstances when Stein arrives in Times Square to see a moving electric sign announcing, ‘Gertrude Stein Has Arrived’, as related in her second autobiography. This sign is more than an illustration of Stein’s celebrated ‘arrival’ in 1934 – it is a disturbing instance of the power of the proliferation and replication of aura in an age of celebrity. The chapter will use Walter Benjamin’s contemporary essay, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ (1936) to explore the mass market reproductions of Stein’s artistic aura, first examining how her unique prose style – an example of authorial self-projection, or imprimatur – is copied and parodied in newspaper columns and advertisements, but also how her name and image become separated from her work, and she becomes, in the words of Daniel J. Boorstin’s definition of celebrity, ‘well-known for being well-known.’ This is ultimately disturbing to Stein, who wants her work to remain the root of the public’s interest in her. She describes how the electronic sign announcing her arrival is ‘upsetting’, raising questions related to aesthetic, cultural and economic values and ultimately her own ‘recognition and non-recognition’ of herself.
Creators: Rosenquist, Rod
Editors: Franssen, Gaston and Honings, Rick
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Research Centres > Centre for Critical and Creative Writing
Date: 17 October 2016
Date Type: Publication
Page Range: pp. 133-155
Title of Book: Celebrity Authorship and Afterlives in English and American Literature :
Place of Publication: London
Number of Pages: 209
Language: English
ISBN: 9781137558671
Status: Published / Disseminated
Refereed: Yes

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