Authors: Logan Esdale,Gertrude Stein
Ida A Novel
is a co-publication of Yale University Press and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Copyright © 2012 by Yale University and the Estate of Gertrude Stein.
Ida A Novel
copyright © 1941 by Random House, Inc., and renewed 1968 by Daniel C. Joseph, Administrator of the Estate of Gertrude Stein. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.
The Credits on pp. 347–348 constitute an extension of the copyright page.
All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers.
Designed by Mary Valencia.
Set in Adobe Caslon type by Newgen North America.
Printed in the United States of America.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Stein, Gertrude, 1874–1946.
Ida : a novel / Gertrude Stein ; edited by Logan Esdale.
Originally published: New York : Random House, c1941. A reissue of the novel with critical matter added.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 978-0-300-16976-8 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Women—Psychology—Fiction. 2. Sex role—Fiction. 3. Self-actualization (Psychology)—Fiction. 4. Stein, Gertrude, 1874–1946 Ida. 5. Stein, Gertrude, 1874–1946—Criticism and interpretation. I. Esdale, Logan. II. Title.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
This paper meets the requirements of
39.48–1992 (Permanence of Paper).
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Frontispiece: Gertrude Stein in February 1935, in Richmond, Virginia, by Carl Van Vechten. Used by permission of Bruce Kellner, Successor Trustee, Estate of Carl Van Vechten.
NEW HAVEN & LONDON
In association with the
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Alphabets and Birthdays
. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957.
The Boudoir Companion: Frivolous, Sometimes Venomous Thoughts on Men, Morals and Other Women
. Ed. Page Cooper. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1938. 31–38.
Gertrude Stein. “How Writing Is Written.”
Choate Literary Magazine
21.2 (Feb. 1935): 5–14.
The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Carl Van Vechten, 1913–1946
. 2 vols. Ed. Edward Burns. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.
. Cambridge: Exact Change, 1993.
The Flowers of Friendship: Letters Written to Gertrude Stein
. Ed. Donald Gallup. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953.
Gertrude Stein: Writings, 1932–1946
. Vol. 2. Ed. Catharine R. Stimpson and Harriet Chessman. New York: Library of America, 1998.
Duchess of Windsor.
The Heart Has Its Reasons
. New York: David McKay, 1956.
How Writing Is Written
. Ed. Robert Bartlett Haas. Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1974.
Lectures In America
. Boston: Beacon Press, 1957.
Last Operas and Plays
. Ed. Carl Van Vechten. New York: Rinehart, 1949.
Ulla E. Dydo, with William Rice.
Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises, 1923–1934
. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2003.
Mrs. Reynolds and Five Earlier Novelettes
. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1952.
. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1935.
A Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Gertrude Stein
. Ed. Robert Bartlett Haas. Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1971.
Reflection on the Atom Bomb
. Ed. Robert Bartlett Haas. Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1973.
RHC Gertrude Stein Correspondence. Random House Collection. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Columbia University.
W. G. Rogers.
When This You See Remember Me: Gertrude Stein in Person
. New York: Rinehart, 1948.
A Stein Reader
. Ed. Ulla E. Dydo. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1993.
The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder
. Ed. Edward Burns and Ulla E. Dydo. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.
What Are Masterpieces
. Ed. Robert Bartlett Haas. Los Angeles: Conference Press, 1940.
WY “Woman of the Year.”
29.1 (Jan. 4, 1937): 13–17.
YCAL Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers. Yale Collection of American Literature. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Yale University.
Introduction: Ida Made a Name for Herself
This workshop edition presents
Ida A Novel
in its historical context, as it moved from composition to publication and reception.
The supplementary materials have been chosen to illuminate Gertrude Stein’s experience of authorship from the novel’s beginning in early summer 1937, through the various drafts and negotiations with her publisher, to the periodical reviews that began appearing in February 1941.
We can re-create Stein’s workshop experience because concurrent with the start of
she began constructing her archive at the Yale University Library. Having a public archive motivated her to systematically keep the novel’s draft materials, something she had never done before. The decision to save the drafts, as well her correspondence and related, unpublished texts, was Stein’s invitation to us to study her creative process. This edition of
has therefore been designed according to how Stein herself presented the novel, not only in print, through her publisher Random House, but also in her archive.
Such an approach contradicts the myth of Stein’s genius that she had created with
The Autobiography Of Alice B. Toklas
(1933). In fact, we can read her enthusiasm for an archive a few years later as her effort to counterbalance both that myth and its opposite, her expressions of self-doubt. When she gave the lecture “How Writing Is Written” (1935), for instance, she told an audience of students, “I didn’t know what I was doing any more than you know.” Neither the doubt nor the myth captures Stein in her complex reality. She was disappointed when readers accepted her status as a famous artist without also enjoying her writing, and expressions of doubt were invitations to join her thinking, not admissions that her writing was a haphazard game.
The archive offers a complexity that debunks caricature. The
record shows that Stein followed a conscious, step-by-step process. Seeing the extant manuscripts and her commitment to revision makes her look ironically ordinary—ironic because the more ordinary she appears, the more singular she becomes, free of the reductive “genius or charlatan” binary. This is Stein the serious writer working through a problem of narration: how to tell an unpredictable story about someone who becomes well known simply for being herself.
So whereas a critical edition typically includes documents that reveal the era’s attitude on gender, for example, or some intellectual touchstones, as well as critical essays from the novel’s publication to the present, this workshop edition contextualizes primarily through Stein’s writing. The supplementary materials reveal the novel’s composite nature and Stein’s particular brand of intertextuality: not only did she rewrite
multiple times, but she borrowed from many other of her texts. This edition enables us to track that process.
In the mid-1930s Stein worried that her famous personality had overtaken her life as a writer and made her too self-conscious. With
she moved on and wrote with a palpable sense of fun, in her language and in the strange, oddly charmed life she gave her title character. Stein also made the novel, as a composite text, a personal reflection on her career. Working in the archive space she created in the late 1930s, she could separate herself from identity and focus on the act of writing.
One of the novel’s key lines is “If nobody knows you that does not argue you to be unknown,” in part for its reassuring aspect—one need not be famous to matter—and in part because it has a sly self-referentiality, alluding to Stein’s aim as a writer to be in a state of mind where “nobody knows you,” free of identity, and to the difficulty of achieving that aim (you can never be “unknown”?). Moreover, it addresses the novel’s central theme, the significance of being known to others and how that affects who we are, where we live, and who we love.