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Gertrude Stein and the Making of Jewish Modernism$
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Amy Feinstein

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066318

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066318.001.0001

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The Stein Era

(p.1) Introduction
Gertrude Stein and the Making of Jewish Modernism

Amy Feinstein

University Press of Florida

Reorienting readers of modernism away from Kenner’s The Pound Era, the introduction explains how Gertrude Stein’s Jewishness underwrites our very understanding of modernism. Literary innovators and critics like Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, and Edmund Wilson resentfully imagined modernism in the image of Stein and implicitly defined modernism as Jewish. Antisemitic Jewish abstractions were not new, however, as evinced by Matthew Arnold’s warnings against what he called modern society’s Hebraism and by racial scientists’ diagnoses of modernity’s Jewish degeneracy. The introduction documents Stein’s life and work as they unfolded against the backdrop of Arnold’s abstractions and changing ideas of Jewish identity. The diaries of Stein’s mother, Amelia (Milly) Stein, detail the Jewish practices of Stein’s childhood in Oakland, California, in the 1880s. Autobiographical and biographical sources document the Jewish thinking of Stein’s young adulthood and college days at Radcliffe and Harvard. The introduction suggests that Stein’s diverse stylistic and aesthetic responses to racial, economic, and cultural ideas about Jews in modernity form a Jewish grammar of modernism.

Keywords:   Antisemitic, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Edmund Wilson, Amelia (Milly) Stein diaries, The Pound Era, Gertrude Stein childhood, Radcliffe, Harvard

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