Re-making the Home, 1909–33

  • Gertrude Stein
  • Edith Wharton
  • Mary Antin


The authors gathered together in this chapter constitute a quirky grouping. Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) has long been recognised by scholars as a major modernist, a radical innovator (even if her difficult oeuvre still fends off a wider readership). Edith Wharton (1862–1937) has always maintained canonical virtue, though for reasons that are the reverse of Stein’s case: as torchbearer of an older realist tradition — the Jamesian novel of manners and society. Mary Antin (1881–1949) is a newer arrival. The Promised Land (1912) is an early version of those migration and ‘self-making’ narratives later elaborated by Willa Cather and Zora Neale Hurston. The re-making of the canon over the past twenty years, and in particular the recovery of forgotten or neglected works of great worth, enable us to re-consitute literary groupings such as this one. But do these writers have anything in common beyond temporal coincidence? Are we not better off sticking with familiar and tested literary—historical periods and schools (local color, realism, regionalism)? A revisionist literary history sees continuities between writers and attempts to construct a nexus of cultural forces which shape literary production during a particular period; these early twentieth-century authors have more in common than first appears.


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Copyright information

© Guy Reynolds 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gertrude Stein
  • Edith Wharton
  • Mary Antin

There are no affiliations available

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