Gertrude Stein and Wallace Stevens
The Performance of Modern Consciousness
By Sara J. Ford
Routledge – 2002 – 146 pages
This book traces the presence of the theater, both as an abstract concept and a literal space, in the plays and poetry of Gertrude Stein and Wallace Stevens as it attempts to explain the parallel depictions of consciousness that are found in both authors' work.
Literary modernists inherited a self that was fallible, a self that was seen as an ultimately failed gesture of expression, and throughout much modern literature is a sense of disillusionment with more traditional notions of selfhood. As more conventional ways of thinking about consciousness became untenable, so too did conventional models of artistic expression.This book shows how Stein and Stevens provide powerful examples of this modern attempt to stage the new subject.
Chapter I: Consciousness Ungrounded: William James and Modernist Expression
Chapter II: Relationships in a Landscape: Stein's Operas and Plays and the Investigation into Modern Consciousness
Chapter III: Language as a Blind Glass: Artistic Expression as Performance in Stein's Tender Buttons
Chapter IV: Stevens' Verse Plays: The Drama of the Mind
Chapter V: Willful Illusions: Stevens' Poetry and the Performance of Poetic Consciousness