‘I’ve never read her’ book club reading The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein
Wednesday 6 August 2014, 7pm
‘I’ve never read her’ book club reading short fiction and essays by women.
Reading: The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein
In describing English literature I have explained that the twentieth century was the century not of sentences as was the eighteenth not of phrases as was the nineteenth but of paragraphs. And as I explained paragraphs were inevitable because as the nineteenth century came to its ending, phrases were no longer full of any meaning and the time had come when a whole thing was all there was of anything. Series immediately before and after made everybody clearly understand this thing. And so it was natural that in writing The Making of Americans I had proceeded to enlarge my paragraphs so as to include everything. What else could I do. In fact inevitably I made my sentences and my paragraphs do the same thing, made them be one and the same thing. This was inevitably because the nineteenth century having lived by phrases really had lost the feeling of sentences, and before this in English literature paragraphs had never been an end in themselves and now in the beginning of the twentieth century a whole thing, being what was assembled from its parts was a whole thing and so it was a paragraph. You will see that in The Making of Americans I did this thing, I made a paragraph so much a whole thing that it included in itself as a whole thing a whole sentence. That makes something clear to you does it not.
The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress is a modernist novel by Gertrude Stein. The novel traces the genealogy, history, and psychological development of members of the fictional Hersland and Dehning families. Stein also includes frequentmetafictional meditations on the process of writing the text that periodically overtake the main narrative.
Stein wrote the bulk of the novel between 1903 and 1911, and evidence from her manuscripts suggests three major periods of revision during that time. The manuscript remained mostly hidden from public view until 1924 when, at the urging of Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford agreed to publish excerpts in the transatlantic review. In 1925, the Paris-based Contact Press published a limited run of the novel consisting of 500 copies. A much-abridged edition was published by Harcourt Brace in 1934, but the full version remained out of print until Something Else Press republished it in 1966. In 1995, a new, definitive edition was published by Dalkey Archive Press with a foreword by William Gass.
The Making of Americans is a 926 page novel. An extract from the start of the novel is attachedwhich we will be reading and discussing at the reading group. The Dalkey Archive Press edition is available to buy here: http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/product/the-making-of-americans/
Artist Lizzie Hughes is proposing a complete reading of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans on Saturday 23 August 3 – 6pm in X Marks the Bökship at Matt’s Gallery. The near1,000 page novel will be divided into approximately twenty sections which will be read out loud, concurrently by volunteers.
I’VE NEVER READ HER is a literature project, based in East London. We read short fiction & essays by women, every second Wednesday of the month. Bring a bottle (or not), something to nibble and your thoughts. Everybody is welcome. We also host screenings and events around the texts that we read. http://iveneverreadher.wordpress.com/
X Marks the Bökship
^ Matt’s Gallery
42 – 44 Copperfield Road
London E3 4RR