Drowning in Childhood: Gertrude Stein’s Late Modernism
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After 1934 nearly every (child or adult) text Stein produces incorporates children’s narratives in some form. But overwhelmingly these narratives are dark. They are preoccupied with representing and with killing children, with writing and with destroying the tropes of childhood. In Stein’s works for children, the alphabet book, first reader, and the fairy tale forms are satirically targeted, and the children in these stories die with regularity and with deadpan insistence. Typically, they drown. In this final chapter I explore Stein’s depictions of drowning in childhood as expressions of her concern that memories from childhood are especially powerful tools through which the ideals of the past hold sway and do damage in the present.