Gertrude Stein frequently called herself a genius, but what did this term really mean for her? Stein's claims to genius are legendary, appearing frequently throughout her texts and public lectures. Were they the signs of excessive egotism, of desperate self-advertisement, or of something else entirely? This book examines the centrality and the specificity of the idea of 'genius' to Stein's work and to the aesthetic ideals and contradictory intellectual affiliations of high modernism in general. Through a chronological reading, it maps Stein's move from an early investment in an essential and essentializing notion of 'genius' to her later use of the term to describe an anti-essentialist, democratic textual process. It considers how this revisionary idea of 'genius' came to correspond with Stein's identification of herself as Jewish, queer and American. And it ends with Stein's seemingly paradoxical decision to call a text about being a genius in America, Everybody's Autobiography. Drawing upon
Edinburgh University Press
Modernism, and the Problem of "Genius"
Education & Reference