Making Sense of a Sensationally Jewish Stein
The conclusion explores the ways that Stein’s identity as a Jewish and modernist writer was a potent symbol of collaboration and resistance in Vichy France and today. The chapter addresses and historicizes concerns over Stein’s Jewish identity and alleged Nazi-collaboration as raised by Alan Dershowitz and others in the popular press in 2012, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City opened the exhibition, “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde.” Although Stein had translated the speeches of Pétain, Vichy’s head of state, her translations were never published and the origins and conclusion of the project remain unknown. In any case, the translation project must be considered alongside Stein’s numerous contributions to publications of the intellectual resistance. Popular claims of Stein’s Nazi collaboration are largely unsubstantiated, historically obtuse, and prone to reading Stein out-of-context, such as a widely-cited passage about being “conservative” in her 1939 memoir Paris France. In their determination to know about Stein’s wartime experiences and writings, the popular media have, nonetheless, affirmed the importance of Jewish identity and modernist style to Stein’s legacy as a writer. This book affirms that too.
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