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Katlin Profile
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Gertrude Stein's "Missing" Vichy Years


Gertrude Stein was a complex, iconic, artistic figure: an experimental writer, an intellectual salon hostess, a collector and nurturer of modern artists, an openly gay woman who admired authoritarian men. Her contradictions abounded and so did contradictions in many of her political statements. But there is no disputing that she chose to stay in France during WW II at a steep price to her historical legacy.

Read more here.
Oct/9/2011, 8:31 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Gertrude Stein's "Missing" Vichy Years


Excellent find, Kat. A few years ago I read a review of the 2007 book on Stein the article mentions. So the info is not news to me. What are we to think, then, of the darling of the avant guarde and of the lesbian community? Here's what I think. Stein had to have been cogniziant of what was going on around her. Whether or not she was fascistic in her bent matters far less than this to me. She knew what was happening. She had to have known. That is what matters the most. That is what condemns her on a basic, human level. Did she support the beatings and deportations of Jews from Vichy France? Did she keep quiet for the sake of an art collection or extra rations? It all still doesn'tmatter to me as much as that she had to have been aware of the inhumanities enacted all around her while she herself was protected by an agent of the state. That is the big one. She failed the test.

Tere
Oct/9/2011, 12:19 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: Gertrude Stein's "Missing" Vichy Years


Yeah, good find, Katlin. And good response, Terreson. But I'm left reeling. What are we to do? Are we to value an artist's work based on his or her politics? Is it possible in this world to condemn Gertrude Stein's politics while liking her prose? It seems like in the 1920's or 30's a writer or painter had to subscribe to a socialist viewpoint in order to be accepted. I seem to recall reading that Hemingway somehow managed to get around this. Then he went to fight against Franco (or report against him), and later had to prove himself to the American govt by marching as a reporter with the American troops in WWII. Would we have condemned his work depending on how our politics turned out? I'm not undecided about Steins failure as a human being (politically speaking) but I wonder whether our "book burning" should be based on an artist's politics? Am I being too obscure here? Thanks, Zak
Oct/12/2011, 3:10 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Gertrude Stein's "Missing" Vichy Years


Said before, Zak, more than once. I respond to how you think.

In the interstice, the in-between place and overlap, there is always the messiness of reality. The Stein case does not present me with a problem. I am not invested in her. That said, Pound presents me with a problem. His writing opened me up to many things, yet he too was fascistic. Eliot presents me with a problem. Anti-Semitic, and not real friendly towards women, his writing also opened me up to certain vers librist possibilities. I could say the same about Carl Jung. His notions may have saved my artistic soul, yet he was a Fascist sympathizer, hungering after some sort of folk archetype of the Fatherland. List goes on.

I am not into "book burning". No matter the case. Said categorically, I am not into cleansing the historical record of messiness and ideological discomfort, always a time stamped, passing paradigm. I am into understanding my heroes, heroines, and culture makers. That Stein in her conscience felt comfortable living out the occupation in Vichy France puts a different slant on her poetry, art and thinking. A slant with value. Again, she had to be aware of the Jew beatings, the gypsy beatings, the homosexual beatings, the beatings of the mentally ill, and the deportations, while she lived a relatively comfortable life style.

Tere
Oct/12/2011, 6:57 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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