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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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“So much like a yid”

“So much like a yid”

An Associative Genealogy of “Jewish Types” in the Notebooks for The Making of Americans

(p.62) 3 “So much like a yid”
Gertrude Stein and the Making of Jewish Modernism

Amy Feinstein

University Press of Florida

In contrast to the coded nomenclatures for modern Jewish identity in Stein’s first fictions, there is an explicit discussion of Jewish nature in the dozens of notebooks Stein filled when she resumed writing The Making of Americans. Chapter 3 examines Stein’s early training in philosophy, psychology, and medicine to excavate an ambiguously racial conception of Jewish nature in these unpublished notebooks. Arnold’s typology remains foundational for Stein between 1906 and 1911, when she writes the stories of Three Lives and also begins to codify characteristic behaviors of Jewish and Anglo-Saxon types of people in her notebooks. Amidst a menagerie of friends, family, artists, scientists, and literary and historical figures, Stein ranks herself as a Jewish type alongside Picasso, Cézanne, Matisse, Flaubert, Darwin, and Caliban. Rather than keeping the world at arm’s length and theorizing about it, Stein considered that these Jewish types shared an engagement with experience—a kind of disinterested empiricism—that she thought was the key to a modern aesthetics, what she called the ability to “unconventionalize.” In this characterization, the notebooks reveal Stein’s matter-of-fact association of Jewish nature with modernism.

Keywords:   Jewish, Anglo-Saxon, Types of people, Notebooks for The Making of Americans, Three Lives, Caliban, Picasso, Cézanne, Empiricism

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