Faculty Bookshelf

A Different Language: Gertrude Stein's Experimental Writing
University of Wisconsin Press, 1983

Marianne DeKoven

University of Wisconsin Press, 1983

Gertrude Stein's work from 1906 to 1932 represents one of the most substantial and successful bodies of experimental writing in English. Yet, that work has remained largely inaccessible and unread, mostly because of the very complexity and range of its experimentation. In this volume, Marianne DeKoven establishes a chronological and conceptual overview of Stein's experimental writing that offers new means of approaching and appreciating this difficult work. The result is a major addition to Stein criticism; a unique source book for specialists and informed general readers interested in modern literature, feminist criticism, and the twentieth century avant-garde; and a groundbreaking guide to Stein's difficult but rewarding work.

In providing the reader with a perspective on the writing that Stein designed expressly to disappoint traditional expectations, DeKoven first proposes a theoretical framework. The significance of Stein's experimental writing, she suggests, lies in its subversion of patriarchal modes of expression that stress the linear, the coherent, the conventionally sensible. By substituting incoherent, open-ended, irreducibly multiple forms of meaning, Stein and other experimental writers provided an alternative to traditional, sense-centered writing and emancipated previously repressed modes of signification.