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Stanzas in Meditation

Stanzas in Meditation: The Corrected Edition

Gertrude Stein
Susannah Hollister
Emily Setina
With an Introduction by Joan Retallack
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by:
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Stanzas in Meditation
    Book Description:

    In the 1950s, Yale University Press published a number of Gertrude Stein's posthumous works, among them her incomparableStanzas in Meditation. Since that time, scholars have discovered that Stein's poem exists in several versions: a manuscript that Stein wrote and two typescripts that her partner Alice B. Toklas prepared. Toklas's work on the second typescript changed the poem when, enraged upon detecting in it references to a former lover, she not only adjusted the typescript but insisted that Stein make revisions in the original manuscript.

    This edition ofStanzas in Meditationis the first to confront the complicated story of its composition and revision. Through meticulous archival work, the editors present a reliable reading text of Stein's original manuscript, as well as an appendix with the textual variants among the poem's several versions. This record of Stein's multi-layered revisions enables readers to engage more fully with the author's radically experimental poem and also to detect the literary impact of Stein's relationship with Toklas. The editors' preface and poet Joan Retallack's introduction offer insight into the complexities of reading Stein's poetry and the innovative modes of reading that her works require and generate. Students and admirers of Stein will welcome this illuminating new contribution to Stein's oeuvre.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15733-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xviii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  5. On Not Not Reading Stanzas in Meditation: Pressures and Pleasures of the Text
    (pp. 1-27)

    By now—on the eve of the second decade of the twenty-first century—it’s not that Stein scholars disagree about the importance ofStanzas in Meditation; it’s widely considered one of that energetically idiosyncratic poet’s masterpieces. “Masterpiece” is, of course, a word Gertrude Stein liked very much. But she, who truly wanted to give pleasure to her readers—pleasure at least equal to what she experienced in the writing—could not be other than mightily disturbed by the frequent fate accompanying that honorific, particularly among modernist classics: the fate of being first among the great unread, or very little read,...

  6. The Turning Point: Preface to the 1956 Stanzas in Meditation
    (pp. 28-49)

    The works in the present volume were written between 1929 and 1933, one of the most dramatic periods in Gertrude Stein’s long life with literary form.¹ The period was in a way the climax of her heroic experimentation with the essentials of writing; it tired her, and after it came her popular, broader and easier, more charming and personal works, but while the period lasted she carried writing as high and as far in her direction as she could, to a point that is still, over twenty years later, a crucial one for writing in general. Her summit of innovation,...

  7. The Impossible: Gertrude Stein, review of the 1956 Stanzas in Meditation
    (pp. 50-56)

    Stanzas in Meditation(1956) is the latest volume in the series of Gertrude Stein’s unpublished writings which Yale University Press has been bringing out regularly for the last decade. It will probably please readers who are satisfied only by literary extremes, but who have not previously taken to Miss Stein because of a kind of lack of seriousness in her work, characterized by lapses into dull, facile rhyme; by the over-employment of rhythms suggesting a child’s incantation against grownups; and by monotony. There is certainly plenty of monotony in the 150-page title poem which forms the first half of this...


  9. Appendix A: Publication History
    (pp. 259-260)
  10. Appendix B: Reading Text
    (pp. 261-263)
  11. Appendix C: Editorial Practices
    (pp. 264-267)
  12. Appendix D: Notes
    (pp. 268-379)