Prepare for Saints and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $36.95
  • Save: $2.93 (8%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Like New | Details
Sold by Time Out Books
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: Looks unread. In nearly perfect condition: there are no signs of underlining, marginalia, highlighting or other wear on the inside or its cover. Suitable for presenting as a gift. Tight and square binding. Eligible for Prime and FREE Super Saver and Shipping! Amazon ships directly from their warehouse with 24/7 customer service, hassle-free returns, and package tracking. 100% satisfaction guaranteed!
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Prepare for Saints: Gertrude Stein, Virgil Thomson, and the Mainstreaming of American Modernism Paperback – July 16, 1995


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$34.02
$8.50 $1.04
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (July 16, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520223535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520223530
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This crisp and accessible work offers both a penetrating reconstruction of the 1934 American productions of Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson's modernist opera Four Saints in Three Acts and a delightful study of an unprecedented artistic collaboration--involving not only Stein and Thomson, but a large cast of supporting characters. From arbiters of taste like Carl Van Vechten to the society hostess Mabel Dodge Luhan to the plucky, well-connected band of Harvard-trained art professionals who eventually set "the course of 'official' modernist culture in America's most prestigious institutions for nearly half a century," Steven Watson tracks the improbable development of an audience for a quintessentially American opera that happened to be set in Spain, peopled by nuns and saints, and staged with an all-black cast performing an incoherent story in front of combustible sets. Along the way, Watson illuminates the larger history of modernism in Paris and New York between the wars, as well as many smaller histories, like the growth of museums in America and the influence of high bohemia on the worlds of fashion and design. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Virtuoso literary journalist Watson's Strange Bedfellows: The First American Avant-Garde (1991) set the standard for books seeking to accessibly summarize complex literary and artistic movements, blending time lines, lexicons of period argot, unfamiliar photos and accounts from the newspapers of the day. Here, Watson applies the same formula to a definitive moment in Modernist history: the collaboration of Gertrude Stein and composer Virgil Thompson on the 1934 opera Four Saints in Three Acts, the first large-scale, homegrown avant-garde theatrical production to surface on the cultural radar (revived two years ago in Houston and New York by Robert Wilson). Coming a year after Brenda Wineapple's Sister Brother laid bare the finally explosive relationship between Gertrude and Leo Stein, Watson's book shows how the galaxy of talent that orbited around the Stein/Toklas household at 27 rue de Fleurus joined forces with a group of echt-Harvard tastemakers who saw a good thing and ran with it, mounting the incomparably lovely but plotless opera with an all-black cast, gracing it with innovative sets by the still under-appreciated Florine Stettheimer and promoting it with the sort of PR machine unknown in the art world at that time. Watson doesn't miss an angle on the story of how these forces came together and eventually took the show from its Hartford, Conn., premier to a smash Broadway run: Thompson's odyssey from small-town America to cosmopolitan composer; Stein's brilliant writing and imperious holding of court; the involvement of Philip Johnson and the fledgling Museum of Modern Art. Most refreshingly, Watson details the inseparability of African-American artists and culture from the opera, from the sexual stereotypes of the era and from modernism at large. (Feb.) FYI: Watson has also written, directed and coproduced the documentary Prepare for Saints: The Making of a Modern Opera, hosted by Jessye Norman, to be aired on PBS in February.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I came to this book hoping to learn about the creation and production of Stein's opera, and I was not disappointed. I thought the book delivered that information, and more. Watson writes well, and he tells a fascinating story of the complicated network of interpersonal relationships that were finally led this unlikely opera into production. I think Watson understands the nature of Stein's as well as anybody, although the focus of the book was not on the way the opera was written. He manages to express the way that all the participants were inspired by Stein's words in different ways, the "miracle" of their all having "to create and all of them did."
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ivare on December 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Many history books about opera and opera composers waste page after precious page clumsily describing the author's personal opinions about great music.

Instead of forcing irrelevant musical analysis down the throats of his readers, Steven Watson paints an engaging portrait of Virgil Thomson's network of friends, lovers, colleagues, and patrons. Watson's approach highlights the deeply collaborative aspect of theater and music, and his choice to focus on artists as well as musicians and poets is refreshing. (Too often, the analysis of a play or an opera focuses too heavily on the written word or note while devaluing the artistic importance of stage design, costumes, and lights.) Also refreshing: the large variety of women who appear in various roles throughout the book, as well as Watson's complete lack of hysteria when alluding to the romantic lives of his gay and lesbian subjects.

A previous reviewer points out that Watson's book largely ignores black theater traditions and fails to follow up adequately on the lives of the black actors who created Four Saints in Three Acts. I agree: I wish that Watson's care in describing the social influences that shaped Lincoln Kirstein and Chick Austin had extended to Eva Jessye and Beatrice Robinson-Wayne. Perhaps there is room for another book on the subject.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those who know little or nothing about the Gertrude Stein/Virgil Thompson opera "Four Saints in Three Acts," this book will provide some basic information. Those searching for any kind of in depth analysis either of the libretto or the music will be disappointed, as I was. Long on the sexual preferences of the members of the 1930's modernist elite, short on any discussion of a landmark work of art. Listen to the original cast album instead.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a meandering, disappointing, misleadingly titled book. Clearly the author wanted to write a book about the Harvard modernists and their era, including exploring "Negro chic" and the homosexual culture of the period. This would be a harder sell as a mass-circulation book, and hence the device of recruiting FOUR SAINTS as a distillation of the world he is interested in.
But the result is that one does not get enough of anything, and too much of what you didn't buy the book for. Chick Austin, Muriel Draper, and the others may have provided physical settings relevant to the gestation of FOUR SAINTS, but they did not CREATE the piece. As such, the lingering over their particular biographies is excessive in a book purportedly devoted to the birth of the opera. Too often we get lists of celebrities present at this gathering or another, complete with fawning descriptions of what they were wearing and how they decorated their rooms -- but this stems from a fan's love of a period, not a chronicling of FOUR SAINTS itself.
Thus while we read through elegant page after page gushing about Mrs. Harrison Williams and Lucius Beebe, by the end we have little idea of what went on on stage in the opera, what more than a few of the lyrics were, or how the music sounded. If it is vital for us to know how Julien Levy founded his art gallery blow by blow, why so little info on black theatre in New York before and after FOUR SAINTS? Why spend a paragraph following up on, say, Alfred Barr after SAINTS but only brief mention of what happened to any of the SAINTS cast members? This is a book about art museums mispackaged as one about the theatre.
This book is a bit of a cynical hoax.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Search

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?