Gertrude Stein and the Nazis
Several books are reviewed in this article. The one I am interested in is Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Fäy, and the Vichy Dilemma. Here is a quote:
Janet Malcolm had much to say about Stein’s relations with Fäy during the Vichy period in her New Yorker essays of June 2, 2003, and November 13, 2006, which became her excellent book Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice. The friendship contributed to Stein’s Vichyite leanings and was helped, considering Fäy’s anti-Semitism, by what Will calls the “fluidity” of Stein’s Jewish affiliations. Assimilation buttressed her modernist bona fides, or so Stein believed. She came to see Christianity as the salvation of France. Jewishness became for her “a form of transgressive identification,” as Will puts it, a view acknowledged in private “in intimate moments with Toklas.” She sounds from this account like a classic self-hating Jew, whose ticket to acceptance was a perch in high culture.
And another, even worse:
“Hitler should have received the Nobel Peace Prize,” she meanwhile told The New York Times Magazine in 1934, and, alas, she apparently meant it. “He is removing all elements of contest and of struggle from Germany,” she explained. “By driving out the Jews and the democratic and Left elements, he is driving out everything that conduces to activity. That means peace.”
And about the art she (but primarily her brother Leo) collected:
What might be called the inherent narcissism of modernist abstraction, with its inward-turning focus on its own formal means and devices, its willful divorce from the sort of close social observation and proletarian politics that caused writers like Dreiser, Zola, and Sinclair Lewis to be tarred as anti-modernists, is not incompatible with the clean-sweep radicalism promised by fascism. Nor is it inconsistent with the notion of a centralized, supreme author, or authority.
I get the Review in both the online form (which comes to my inbox first) and then the paper form, which shows up in Costa Rica about a week later. For me, the paper form is much better. Having both, so I can refer to it as I have done here, is perfect.