6. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

I may say that only three times in my life have I met a genius and each time a bell within me rang and I was not mistaken, and I may say in each case it was before there was any general recognition of the quality of genius in them. The three geniuses of whom I wish to speak are Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Alfred Whitehead. I have met many important people, I have met several great people but I have only known three first class geniuses and in each case on sight within me something rang. In no one of the three cases have I been mistaken. In this way my new full life began. (5)

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (written by her partner, Gertrude Stein) recounts the couple’s lives in early twentieth-century Paris among painters, writers, and composers—and, during the First World War, soldiers. Chris and Suzanne explore what the book says about how painting is like writing, about wives, and about America—and they talk about other pieces by Stein that they love.

Show Notes.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (or on Project Gutenberg).

Other works by Stein: Three Lives. Tender Buttons. The Making of Americans. How to Write.

Gertrude Stein reads If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso.

Alice B. Toklas in her own words.

Picasso’s Trois femmes (1908), a portrait, “in a sort of red brown, of three women, square and posturing, all of it rather frightening”.

Picasso’s Portrait of Gertrude Stein.

Sonia Delaunay’s magnificent book collaboration with poet Blaise Cendrars, La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France.

Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories, an exhibit that was at the National Portrait Gallery several years ago with a webpage full of images of Stein.

The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, a series of lectures hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Next time: Dante’s Inferno (translated by Mark Musa or Charles Singleton or Ciaran Carson or whomever you’d like).

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