A bold experimenter and self-proclaimed genius, she rejected the linear, time-oriented writing characteristic of the nineteenth century for a spatial, process-oriented, specifically twentieth-century literature.
The results were dense poems and fictions, often devoid of plot or dialogue, which yielded memorable phrases ("Rose is a rose is a rose") but were not commercially successful books.
When couples came to visit her salon, Stein typically entertained the men, while shuttling the wives off to sit with Toklas. Mellow suggested that Stein's unconventional lifestyle and "her openness to vanguard trends may have been encouraged by her erratic family life." Born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, in 1874, Stein moved frequently and was exposed to three different languages before mastering one.Among those whose careers she helped launch were painters Henri Matisse, Juan Gris, and Pablo Picasso.What these creators achieved in the visual arts, Stein attempted in her writing.Of these, "Melanctha," the portrait of a young mulatto girl who suffers an unhappy affair with a black doctor, has been particularly singled out for praise.A reworking of an autobiographical story Stein wrote about an unhappy lesbian affair, the story "attempts to trace the curve of a passion, its rise, its climax, its collapse, with all the shifts and modulations between dissension and reconciliation along the way," wrote Mark Schorer in Mellow commended it as "one of the earliest and most sensitive treatments of Negro experience," attributing much of its success to "the racy, almost vernacular style of the dialogue." The dialogue and other facets of the story reflect the influence of Stein's psychological training under James.
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In fact, her only bestseller, a memoir of Stein's life written in the person of Toklas, was a standard narrative, conventionally composed.Though commercial publishers slighted her experimental writings and critics dismissed them as incomprehensible, Stein's theories did interest some of the most talented writers of the day.Harrison's "that suited us who were to create the twentieth century art and literature." As soon as she arrived, Stein submerged herself in the bohemian community of the avant garde, described by her brother Leo as an "atmosphere of propaganda." With guidance from her eldest brother Michael—an art collector who lived just a few blocks away—Stein began to amass a modern art collection of her own. She also, at age twenty-nine, dedicated herself in earnest to her writing.Since her works were not published in the order in which they were composed, it is difficult to chart the progression of her experiments, but critics marked (written between 1906-1908 and published in 1925) as a milestone.
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A 900-page novel without dialogue or action, the book held no commercial interest and went unpublished for seventeen years.
With his encouragement, she published two research papers in the Harvard and enrolled in the Johns Hopkins Medical School.
After failing several courses, Stein quit the program without earning a degree.
The people in this world appear to be motionless at every stage of their progress, each one is simultaneously being born, arriving at all ages and dying.
You perceive that it is a world without mobility, everything takes place, has taken place, will take place; therefore nothing takes place, all at once." Porter maintained that such writing was not based upon moral or intellectual judgments but simply upon Stein's observations of "acts, words, appearances giving her view; limited, personal in the extreme, prejudiced without qualification, based on assumptions founded in the void of pure unreason." In his Vernon Loggins described Stein's language as "thought in the nude—not thought dressed up in the clothes of time-worn rhetoric." Mark Schorer also noted her process-oriented approach: "Her model now is Picasso in his cubist phase and her ambition a literary plasticity divorced from narrative sequence and consequence and hence from literary meaning.