Gertrude Stein

(1874 - 1946)

Raised in Oakland, Gertrude Stein moved to Paris in 1903. Her fractured writing style was influenced by cubist painting. “Look here,” she said in a 1934 radio interview, “being intelligible is not what it seems.” In 1934 she returned to America after living in Paris for thirty years. She arrived in Chicago on November 7, after her first-ever airplane trip. Following a dinner party at the University of Chicago, two homicide detectives took Stein and her partner, Alice Toklas, for a ride around the city in their squad car.

All Writing

In America, everybody is, but some are more than others.

—Gertrude Stein, 1937

Anything one is remembering is a repetition, but existing as a human being that is being, listening, and hearing is never repetition.

—Gertrude Stein, 1935

Water astonishing and difficult altogether makes a meadow and a stroke.

—Gertrude Stein, 1914

Understanding is a very dull occupation.

—Gertrude Stein, 1937

More and more I like to take a train. I understand why the French prefer it to automobiling—it is so much more sociable, and of course these days so much more of an adventure, and the irregularity of its regularity is fascinating.

—Gertrude Stein, 1943

Every adolescent has that dream every century has that dream every revolutionary has that dream, to destroy the family.  

—Gertrude Stein, 1940


Gertrude Stein recalled that on the copy of her final exam for a class taught by William James she wrote, “Dear Professor James, I am so sorry but really I do not feel a bit like an examination paper in philosophy today.” She then left the room. The next day a note arrived from Professor James that said, “Dear Miss Stein, I understand perfectly how you feel. I often feel like that myself”—and then awarded her the highest mark in the course.

Issues Contributed