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Gertrude Stein

  • Water astonishing and difficult altogether makes a meadow and a stroke.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Water Raining," Tender Buttons ()
  • They were regular in being gay, they learned little things that are things in being gay, they learned many little things that are things in being gay, they were gay every day, they were regular, they were gay, they were gay the same length of time every day, they were gay, they were quite regularly gay.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Miss Furr and Miss Skeene," Geography and Plays ()
  • Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Sacred Emily" (1913), Geography and Plays ()
  • Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. 'Stop!' cried the groaning old man at last, 'Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.'

  • It is hard living down the tempers we are born with. We all begin well, for in our youth there is nothing we are more intolerant of than our own sins writ large in others and we fight them fiercely in ourselves; but we grow old and we see that these our sins are of all sins the really harmless ones to own, nay that they give a charm to any character, and so our struggle with them dies away.

  • ... there are many ways of eating, for some eating is living for some eating is dying, for some thinking about ways of eating gives to them the feeling that they have it in them to be alive and to be going on living, to some to think about eating makes them know that death is always waiting that dying is in them.

  • ... it is very hard to know of most men and to know it in many women in the middle of their living what there is in them, what there is as a bottom to them, what there is mixed up inside them. Slowly, more and more, one gets to know them as repeating comes out in them. In the middle of their living they are always repeating, everybody always is repeating in all of their whole living but in the middle of the living of most men and many women it is hard to be sure about them just what it is they are repeating, they are in their living saying many things then and it is hard to know it about them then what it is in them they are repeating that later in their living will show itself to be the whole of them to any one who wants to watch them.

  • Repeating is the whole of living and by repeating comes understanding, and understanding is to some the most important part of living.

  • The kind of loving women and men have in them and the ways it comes out from them makes for them the bottom nature in them, gives to them their kind of thinking, makes the character they have all their living in them, makes them then their kind of women and men and there are always many millions made of each kind of them.

  • I am writing for myself and strangers. This is the only way that I can do it. ... I write for myself and strangers.

  • Some out of their own virtue make a god who sometimes later is a nuisance to them, a terror perhaps to them, a difficult thing to be forgetting.

  • Some men and women are inquisitive about everything, they are always asking, if they see any one with anything they ask what is that thing, what is it you are carrying, what are you going to be doing with that thing, why have you that thing, where did you get that thing, how long will you have that thing, there are very many men and women who want to know about anything about everything.

  • It is very difficult in quarreling to be certain in either one what the other one is remembering. It is very often astonishing to each one quarreling to find out what the other one was remembering for quarreling. Mostly in quarreling not any one is finding out what the other one is remembering for quarreling, what the other one is remembering from quarreling.

  • Mostly every one is needing some one to be one listening to that one being one being one boasting.

  • There are two kinds of men and women, those who have in them resisting as their way of winning those who have in them attacking as their way of winning ...

  • Disillusionment in living is finding that no one can really ever be agreeing with you completely in anything.

  • This is the real thing of disillusion that no one, not any one really is believing, seeing, understanding, thinking anything as you are thinking, believing, seeing, understanding such a thing.

  • This is then complete disillusionment in living, the complete realization that no one can believe as you do about anything ...

  • You are all a lost generation.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • in Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises ()
  • Before the Flowers of Friendship Faded Friendship Faded.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • book title ()
  • A sentence is not emotional a paragraph is.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Sentences and Paragraphs," How to Write ()
  • It is natural to suppose that a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "In Narrative," How to Write ()
  • Forensics is eloquence and reduction.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Forensics," How to Write ()
  • [On Ezra Pound:] A village explainer, excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas ()
  • After a little while I murmured to Picasso that I liked his portrait of Gertrude Stein. Yes, he said, everybody said that she does not look like it but that does not make any difference, she will, he said.

  • ... there is art and there is official art, there always has been and there always will be.

  • ... remarks are not literature.

  • She reads anything and everything and even now hates to be disturbed and above all however often she has read a book and however foolish the book may be no one must make fun of it or tell her how it goes on. It is still as it always was real to her.

  • She always says she dislikes the abnormal, it is so obvious. She says the normal is so much more simply complicated and interesting.

  • Let me recite what history teaches. History teaches.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso," Portraits and Prayers ()
  • How do you like what you have. This is a question that anybody can ask anybody. Ask it.

  • No thing makes any difference as long as some one is listening while they are talking. If the same person does the talking and the listening why so much the better there is just by so much the greater concentration. One may really indeed say that that is the essence of genius, of being most intensely alive, that is being one who is at the same time talking and listening. It is really that that makes one a genius. And it is necessary if you are to be really and truly alive it is necessary to be at once talking and listening, doing both things, not as if there were one thing, not as if they were two things, but doing them, well if you like, like the motor going inside and the car moving, they are part of the same thing.

  • I like familiarity. In me it does not breed contempt. Only more familiarity.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • in Reader's Digest ()
  • It is very funny about money. The thing that differentiates man from animals is money. All animals have the same emotions and the same ways as men. Anybody who has lots of animals around knows that. But the thing no animal can do is count, and the thing no animal can know is money.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • in The Saturday Evening Post ()
  • When you earn it and spend it you do know the difference between three dollars and a million dollars, but when you say it and vote it, it all sounds the same.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • in The Saturday Evening Post ()
  • In the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. That is what makes America what it is.

  • How likely are definitions to be pleasurable.

  • Well money is not easy to describe. It is easy to lose but it cannot be lost, and no one can get really get used to it.

  • You never answer a question nobody does.

  • What is the use of being a little boy if you are growing up to be a man.

  • I am I because my little dog knows me.

  • ... I had a family. They can be a nuisance in identity but there is no doubt no shadow of doubt that that identity the family identity we can do without.

  • ... it is a peaceful thing to be one succeeding.

  • More great Americans were failures than they were successes. They mostly spent their lives in not having a buyer for what they had for sale.

  • Native always means people who belong somewhere else, because they had once belonged somewhere. That shows that the white race does not really think they belong anywhere because they think of everybody else as native.

  • There is too much fathering going on just now and there is no doubt about it fathers are depressing. Everybody now-a-days is a father, there is father Mussolini and father Hitler and father Roosevelt and father Stalin and father Trotsky and father Blum and father Franco is just commencing now and there are ever so many more ready to be one. Fathers are depressing. England is the only country now that has not got one and so they are more cheerful there than anywhere. It is a long time now that they have not had any fathering and so their cheerfulness is increasing.

  • It is funny the two things most men are proudest of is the thing that any man can do and doing does in the same way, that is being drunk and being the father of their son.

  • ... it is all the question of identity. ... As long as the outside does not put a value on you it remains outside but when it does put a value on you then it gets inside or rather if the outside puts a value on you then all your inside gets to be outside.

  • The minute you or anybody else knows what you are you are not it, you are what you or anybody else knows you are and as everything in living is made up of finding out what you are it is extraordinarily difficult really not to know what you are and yet to be that thing.

  • ... considering how dangerous everything is nothing is really very frightening.

  • My sister four years older simply existed for me because I had to sleep in the same room with her. Besides, it is natural not to care about a sister, certainly not when she is four years older and grinds her teeth at night.

  • It was this hotel keeper who said what it is said I said that the war generation was a lost generation. And he said it this way. He said that every man becomes civilized between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. If he does not go through a civilizing experience at that time in his life he will not be a civilized man. And men who went to the war at eighteen missed the period of civilizing, and they could never be civilized. They were a lost generation.

  • It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.

  • Animals in different countries have different expressions just as the people in different countries differ in expression.

  • I do want to get rich but I never want to do what there is to do to get rich.

  • Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.

  • Generally speaking anybody is more interesting doing nothing than doing something.

  • Too few is as many as too many.

  • Counting is the religion of this generation it is its hope and its salvation.

  • One never discusses anything with anybody who can understand one discusses things with people who cannot understand.

  • In America, everybody is, but some are more than others.

  • More and more I am certain that the only difference between man and animals is that men can count and animals cannot and if they count they mostly do count money ...

  • ... you are brilliant and subtle if you come from Iowa and really strange and you live as you live and you are always very well taken care of if you come from Iowa.

  • It is a difficult thing to like anybody's else ideas of being funny.

  • Any time is the time to make a poem.

  • ... what was the use of my having come from Oakland it was not natural to have come from there yes write about it if I like or anything if I like but not there, there is no there there.

  • Everywhere there was somewhere and everywhere there they were men women children dogs cows wild pigs little rabbits cats lizards and animals. That is the way it was. And everybody dogs cats sheep rabbits and lizards and children all wanted to tell ... all about themselves.

  • I am Rose my eyes are blue / I am Rose and who are you / I am Rose and when I sing / I am Rose like anything.

  • Paris, France is exciting and peaceful.

  • One of the pleasantest things those of us who write or paint do is to have the daily miracle. It does come.

  • It is nice in France they adapt themselves to everything slowly they change completely but all the time they know that they are as they were.

  • I cannot write too much upon how necessary it is to be completely conservative that is particularly traditional in order to be free.

  • ... there are the two sides to a Frenchman, logic and fashion and that is the reason why French people are exciting and peaceful. Logic and fashion.

  • Cooking like everything else in France is logic and fashion.

  • After all human beings are like that. When they are alone they want to be with others and when they are with others they want to be alone ...

  • ... art is the pulse of a nation.

  • ... each generation has something different at which they are all looking.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Composition as Explanation" (1926), What Are Masterpieces ()
  • No one is ahead of his time, it is only that the particular variety of creating his time is the one that his contemporaries who also are creating their own time refuse to accept.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Composition as Explanation" (1926), What Are Masterpieces ()
  • August is a month when if it is hot weather it is really very hot.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • Ida
    • ()
  • There are so many ways of earning a living and most of them are failures.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • Ida
    • ()
  • Dogs are dogs, you sometimes think that they are not but they are. And they always are here there and everywhere.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • Ida
    • ()
  • ... she was a tempting dog, she loved to tempt other dogs to do what they should not. She never did what she should not but they did when she showed them where it was.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • Ida
    • ()
  • Nature is not natural and that is natural enough.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • Ida
    • ()
  • One does not get better but different and older and that is always a pleasure.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925), in Edmund Wilson, ed., The Crack-Up ()
  • The thing that is most interesting about government servants is that they believe what they are supposed to believe, they really do believe what they are supposed to believe.

  • It is extraordinary that whole populations have no projects for the future, none at all. It certainly is extraordinary, but it is certainly true.

  • I had always been so much taken with the way all English people I knew always were going to see their lawyer. Even if they have no income and do not earn anything they always have a lawyer.

  • War is never fatal but always lost.

  • As a cousin of mine once said about money, money is always there but the pockets change; it is not in the same pockets after a change, and that is all there is to say about money.

  • ... there ain't any answer, there ain't going to be any answer, there never has been any answer, that's the answer.

  • We are always the same age inside.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • in Reader's Digest ()
  • I caught sight of a spendid Misses. She had handkerchiefs and kisses. She had eyes and yellow shoes she had everything to choose and she chose me. In passing through France she wore a Chinese hat and so did I. In looking at the sun she read a map. And so did I. In eating fish and pork she just grew fat. And so did I. In loving a blue sea she had a pain. And so did I. In loving me she of necessity thought first. And so did I. How prettily we swim. Not in water. Not on land. But in love.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • about Alice B. Tolkas, in Bee Time Vine and Other Pieces ()
  • Let me listen to me and not to them.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Stanza VII," Stanzas in Meditation ()
  • I always wanted to be historical, from almost a baby on, I felt that way about it ...

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • 1946, in Carl Van Vechten, ed., Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein ()
  • You are so afraid of losing your moral sense that you are not willing to take it through anything more dangerous than a mud-puddle.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Q.E.D." (1903), in Fernhurst, Q.E.D., and Other Early Writings ()
  • ... I could never be one of two I could never be two in one as married couples do and can, I am but one all one, one and all one, and so I have never been married to any one.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "The Mother of Us All," in Carl Van Vechten, ed., Last Operas and Plays ()
  • Do you know because I tell you so, or do you know, do you know.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "The Mother of Us All," in Carl Van Vechten, ed., Last Operas and Plays ()
  • To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.

    • Gertrude Stein
  • It is better to lose and win, than win and be defeated.

    • Gertrude Stein
  • If you are a thinker, you will change the language. You will not use words the way others do.

    • Gertrude Stein
  • You should only read what is truly good or frankly bad.

    • Gertrude Stein
  • Patriarchal Poetry makes mistakes.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Patriarchal Poetry" (1927), Bee Time Vine ()
  • There is no such thing as a natural sentence but there is such a thing as a natural paragraph and it must be found.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "More Grammar for a Sentence," Bee Time Vine ()
  • Nobody knows what I am trying to do but I do and I know when I succeed.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "More Grammar for a Sentence," Bee Time Vine ()
  • I manage to think twice about everything / Why will they like me as they do / Or not as they do / Why will they praise me as they do / Or praise me not not as they do ...

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Stanza III," Stanzas in Meditation ()
  • How I wish I were able to say what I think ...

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Stanza XVII," Stanzas in Meditation ()
  • I often think how celebrated I am. / It is difficult not to think how celebrated I am. / And if I think how celebrated I am / They know who know that I am new / That is I knew I know how celebrated I am / And after all it astonishes even me.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Stanza XXIV," Stanzas in Meditation ()
  • When moneys in a purse in my own pocket / It means wealth ...

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Stanza XVI," Stanzas in Meditation ()
  • There is no beginning to an end / But there is a beginning and an end / To beginning.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Stanza XXXVIII," Stanzas in Meditation ()
  • A novel is what you dream in your night sleep. A novel is not waking thoughts although it is written and thought with waking thoughts.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "The Superstitions of Fred Anneday, Annday, Anday: A Novel of Real Life" (1934), How Writing Is Written ()
  • Superstition is believing that something means anything and that anything means something and that each thing means a particular thing and will mean a particular thing is coming. Oh yes it does.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "The Superstitions of Fred Anneday, Annday, Anday: A Novel of Real Life" (1934), How Writing Is Written ()
  • An audience is pleasant if you have it, it is flattering and flattering is agreeable always, but if you have an audience the being an audience is their business, they are the audience you are the writer, let each attend to their own business.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "Questions and Answers" (1939), How Writing Is Written ()
  • What happened to me was this. When the success began and it was a success I got lost completely lost. ... for the first time since I had begun to write I could not write and what was worse I could not worry about not writing and what was also worse I began to think about how my writing would sound to others, how could I make them understand, I who had always lived within myself and my writing. And then all of a sudden I said there that it is that is what was the matter with all of them all the young men whose syrup did not pour, and here I am being just the same. They were young and I am not but when it happens it is just the same, the syrup does not pour.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "And Now" (1934), How Writing Is Written ()
  • ... there is no pleasure so sweet as the pleasure of spending money but the pleasure of writing is longer. There is no denying that.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "And Now" (1934), How Writing Is Written ()
  • ... it is a surprising thing that the largest city in the world should have a population as gentle and pleasant and intimate and considerate and comforting as a little bit of a place where everybody knows everybody and everything, but astonishing or not it is perfectly true and the inhabitants of New York are just like that, and they are like that and this thing is a delightful, natural and gentle and sweet and comforting thing.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "I Came and Here I Am" (1935), How Writing Is Written ()
  • In America ... who is to stop congress from spending too much money. They will not stop themselves, that is certain. Everybody has to think about that now. Who is to stop them.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "More About Money" (1936), How Writing Is Written ()
  • A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing but vegetables.

  • [On the death of Isadora Duncan:] Affectations can be dangerous.

    • Gertrude Stein
  • It is awfully important to know what is and what is not your business.

    • Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein, U.S. expatriate writer, literary salon host

(1874 - 1944)