The Magazine

Romancing the Stein

An account of Gertrude and Alice that Gertrude would have liked.

Sep 3, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 47 • By JUDY BACHRACH
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Encounters with other Stein scholars (one of whom first makes and then misses an appointment, before repenting and refusing his help outright, and another of whom reports her dreams concerning Stein and Toklas, the details of which the biographer treats reverentially); the death of Stein's second white poodle seven decades ago; the notebooks and dissertations of the better informed; the memories of a Polish-born opera singer; a long-dead rabbi who happened to be an antecedent of Toklas--each of these surfaces, in order to be allotted a carefully measured dose of respectful treatment in a paragraph or a chapter, before dissolving altogether.

Nothing melds. Nothing follows. Nothing makes too much sense. Gertrude would doubtless have approved.

Judy Bachrach is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.