Gertrude Stein – a previously undiscovered manuscript

640px-Gertrude_Stein_1935-01-04      

 

Gert has a brother known, and not known, as Denis Kodaly, an inveterate snapper-up of literary trifles.  By a bizarre series of coincidences beginning in a Parisian fish shop and ending in a part-time taxidermist’s rooms in Kansas City, he has come upon a manuscript referred to in Oscar Trerty’s magisterial  “Marble Brain – a life of Gertrude Stein” but not previously found in spite of the efforts of Stein scholars. We reproduce here a short  extract.

To be George one has to be the same as others who are known to George to the degree that a person may be said to be definitely George and not George. If one is not George one is not George and little more need be said. If one is George people may be of the opinion that George is George or George is said to be George. To make the difference one needs reliable witnesses. But to be original is different. Different and not the same as being George or not being George. Or being said to be George or being said not to be George. Or not being said to be George. If one is original, one may be original or one may be said to be original. These things are the same. To say a person is original is like sweeping up the dust in a dustpan but not throwing it out. But one could not easily sweep George or those said to be George up in the same dustpan. Or any other dustpan. Even the window cleaner who was disturbed by the sight of four cats in the living room of the home of my acquaintance would balk at such a thing. The dispersion of large numbers of Georges is not proper or original. Therefore one should be careful when another says, there is George, or Hello George, or how original, George. These statements are both foolish and dangerous.

 I can avoid danger or I can choose not to avoid danger. No penalty will apply in either case.

We will be publishing further extracts from this ms, which is 5055 words in total. Most unusually, Stein (or possibly Toklas) provided an index, as follows:

Index

B., Alice Toklas 6

Bankhead, Tallulah 6

nonsense I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

noun 2

omelette 6

cats 3, 4, 6

City, Kansas I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Comparison 2

 pig 2

 plumber 5

President 4, 5

anger 6

difference I, 3. 4, 5, 6

rat 4, 5

recognition 5

Roosevelt, Eleanor 6

elephant 5

ending 2, 3

Endings 3

sameness 3, 4, 5, 6

few 3, 5, 6

sense I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Separation 2

sewers 4

street 3, 4

Stupidity 4

George 5, 6

glory 5

Havana 6

things I, 2, 3, 5. 6

tinkling 3

Jaw, Moose I, 5, 6

Tuesday I, 2, 4, 5, 6

Jugoslavia 3, 4. 5, 6

Tunney, Gene 6

Kumamoto 4

understanding 2, 3, 5, 6

man I, 2, 3, 4

me I, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Vladivostok 5

Melbourne I, 2, 5, 6

Mendelssohn 6

milkman 4

Walla Walla I, 6

Monday 6

window 3, 4, 6

Montmartre 2, 4

windowcleaner 4, 6

mustard 6

    

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7 thoughts on “Gertrude Stein – a previously undiscovered manuscript

  1. There are two mentions of Walla Walla in this remarkable manuscript. Is this because through some enormous cosmic coincidence there are two Walla Wallas, one in Washington state (place where a small stream runs into a larger one — haiku-esque), and one in New South Wales (place of many rocks)? There is also the Jamaican meaning of Walla Walla (to roll around in something like dirt or mud) and the Hong Kong meaning (a kind of motorboat used there). But is is unclear whether Gertrude Stein would have been referring to any or all of those in her mentions.

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  2. Your knowledge is truly encyclopaedic. We have checked the ms and it appears that Gertrude was referring to Walla Walla, Washington, but Stein being Stein the felicitous
    existence of these other Walla Wallas must be considered as part of the subtext. The Jamaican word is reminiscent of the Boro language “zogno” -the sound produced by a mixing of mud and water when you thrust your hand into a crab’s hole. Somebody should write a cross-language PhD on language related to the sound mud and water make when combined.

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    1. But really, what is the Boro language word for the appropriate thing to say when you find that the crab is still occupying the hole and is unhappy about your intrusion? Seems like most of the English words available would be too generalised to express the pain of the crab’s latching onto your unfortunate hand. This could also be covered in the PhD dissertation of course.

      Agreed of course, that any Steinian reading would have to include these subtexts.

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  3. Well, there is a word “egthu” meaning” to create a pinching sensation in the armpit”. so perhaps that would be the one, with a prefix to indicate the hand rather than the armpit. Now I know you, Chicken Lady, (or as we say in our quaint lingo “I’m a wakeup to you”) you’re going to go off and look up the Boro language and you will find that every word we say is, as always, true.

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  4. Just letting everyone know: a recording of this recently discovered masterpiece by Gertrude Stein will be released shortly. The narrator is Bev Stevens, who has two titles published on Audible.com.

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