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Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company by [Mellow, James R.]
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Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Length: 538 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


“A rich and compelling portrait of an extraordinary personage and a mural of the people in her life. She has been given a biographer worthy of her.” —Los Angeles Times

“Entertaining and comprehensive . . . a delightful book.” —The New Yorker

About the Author

James R. Mellow was the author of two other highly acclaimed biographies, Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Times, which won the American Book Award for biography in 1983, and Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, as well as Walker Evans, an unfinished biography that was published posthumously. A regular reviewer for The New York Times, he died in 1997.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4168 KB
  • Print Length: 538 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (May 1, 2003)
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2003
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MH2RKG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,041 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book gives one of the best overviews of Gertrude Stein and her crowd! When it first came out almost 30 years ago, I read it and have been hooked on Stein and Alice and Picasso and Hemingway and Anderson and Wilder and on and on. Mellow provides very detailed information about the lives of all these greats and some have criticized him for his almost gossipy, "Entertainment Tonight" style. But what better way to feel a part of this circle of extraordinary people? Had more high school and college English and Art teachers used this book, there would be more readers and fans for this amazing artistic period! Hats off to the publisher for re-issuing this book!
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Format: Paperback
Following a recent trip to Paris, I was inspired to learn more about the Americans who lived there in the early twentieth century. Some got their first taste of Paris at Gertrude Stein's Saturday night salon at 27, rue de Fleurus; others by being members of Sylvia Beach's lending library and bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. James Mellow in his Acknowledgements to Charmed Circle, says he wants to counter the legend of Stein and present her as an honest woman. I believe that he has achieved his goal. There is a tender side to Stein, being supportive and helpful to young writers and artists; but no doubt she could be arbitrary, rude and mean-spirited to others--sometimes those she had helped earlier. It is fascinating that her best-selling books: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and Wars I Have Seen were also her most accessible books, and not the abstruse, repetitive, strangely punctuated books that publishers avoided for years. She and Picasso had a friendship that blew hot and cold over the years and she generally avoided friendships with successful American or English writers. Mellow doesn't spare presenting her warts, but it's clear that she has a creative spark and a hugely independent spirit. The human side of her seems to come out during the two world wars she lived through, especially during World War II when she and Alice lived in the countryside with ordinary French people.

A long book: 570 pages of small print in my paperback edition, plus 70 pages of notes and index, but well-written and informative. Also consider: Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation by Noel Riley Fitch; Paris Was Yesterday by Janet Flanner; Memoirs of Montparnasse by John Glassco; and, of course, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am adding this paragraph to thank Henry Holt/Avon profusely for releasing a Kindle version of this book, which I snapped up instantly. I won't claim to have had anything to do directly with the digital version's release, but it's been only a few months since I made the appeal below. I would, of course, love to have a newly republished on-paper copy, too, but for now, I'll be happy with what I can get, without paying the jaw-dropping sum of $100.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Please, please, please -- Henry Holt/Avon, reprint this book again, and end the ridiculous profit-taking that's being perpetrated here where allegedly new copies of this book are concerned!!!

I read this book for a Lost Generation lit class in the late '70s (and loved it!), lost my copy and wanted to replace it and re-read it.

I was (and still am) horrified that allegedly new-quality PAPERBACK copies of the 2003 reprint edition of this book are being offered with a straight face for $99.99. When the first paperback edition sold for $2.49? What the ... ??? When last paperback reprint is less than 10 years old? Really?? REALLY???

I ordered (from an affiliate bookseller, but I'm not here to dish on them) what I thought would be a "like new" copy of this book. I'm sorry, but a copy from the first paperback edition (©1974), with heavily yellowed (closer to brown) page edges (and in some places, entire pages on the verge of turning the same acid-eaten brown) is NOT "like new." It is, regrettably, being returned -- I don't do "like new," especially if this is an example of "like new."

And the $99.99 price tag on allegedly "new" copies is patently ridiculous!!!

So please, Henry Holt -- this book is a classic on the subject it covers, and should be on the reading list of every lit class that addresses the Lost Generation. Please do readers like me, who don't have the requisite deep pockets to buy a new-quality copy of this book, a favor and reissue this book.
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Format: Paperback
An interesting biography of this American who left her country for France at the turn of the century. Gertrude Stein returned only once to the United States as part of a book promotion tour. She stayed in France until her death in 1946 - she is buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

She met several people during her life's journey - most of who were connected with the arts like Picasso, Matisse, Erik Satie, F. Scott Fitzgerald - the list goes on. She was also a collector -but she could only afford the Picasso paintings at the beginning of his career. After the First World War Picasso's stature was so high (partially due to Gertrude Stein's publicity) that she could no longer purchase his paintings.

I believe that Gertrude Stein's legacy is due more to her talkative gatherings with artists and her collections, than being a writer. She was a compulsive writer; she wrote everyday and kept everything she wrote. As the author states her writings were long-winded, lacked narrative and had a repetitive style. Also as Hemingway remarked of her - she did not believe in editing. She grandiosely believed that all she wrote was a jewel of wisdom and delight. For the most part - except for the "Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" - her writings are unavailable today. Her style is similar to James Joyce who she detested, probably due to writer's envy.

Mr. Mellow describes well the historical events surrounding Gertrude Stein's life in Paris and France. He is not afraid to attack her rambling writings, her egotism and her lack of political insight (particularly on Hitler and the coming of World War II). I would have preferred less on her literary output (which I for the most part find to be ego-driven diary portraits) and more on her relationship with Alice Toklas.
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