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Contingency as Medium in Gertrude Stein

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Christine Savinel
Christine Savinel


Gertrude Stein questions the event as an external and contingent accident, to be at least subsumed within the continuum of thinking —the untimely flux of interiormeditation and creation. Throughout her prolific production, one of Stein’s majorattempts was to do away with the event in literature, to dispense with it, to play against it. Stein pointedly selected as her topic the contingency of life within historical time, in her several autobiographical texts from The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1932) to Wars I Have Seen (1944). Wars I Have Seen proves to be a singular work which helps us realise the process through which Stein resists historical contingency. As this essay argues, Wars I Have Seen gives us a remarkable vision of Stein trying to resist the pressure of History, and a vision of literature trying to hold at bay the contingency of events.


Gertrude Stein; contingency; Narration; Wars I Have Seen; Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas; Everybody’s Autobiography; Four in America; The Geographical History of America; history; Second World War

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