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Was Gertrude Stein Any Good?

4 Extra Debut. Writer Gertrude Stein declared she was a genius. But was she? – or instead over-rated or even incomprehensible? From 2013.

Gertrude Stein has been called a genius and an idiot. So which was she? For some Stein is on a literary par with her contemporaries and friends; James Joyce, T.S Eliot, Marcel Proust or Ezra Pound, but for others she's a fraud, the 'eminent idiot' of the Modernist period, writing gibberish and passing it off as art.

There's no doubting the importance of Stein as a creative catalyst. She gathered some of the greatest artists of the 20th century into her circle, offering financial, emotional and intellectual support. Picasso and Hemingway in particular cited her importance to their work.

She spent much of her life working on her opus, 'The Making of Americans', a book likened to Joyce's Ulysses in its scale, ambition and incomprehensibility. Does it deserve re-examination? Is it fair that Joyce is lauded and Stein marginalised?

Poet and presenter Ian McMillan asks if Getrude Stein was any good?

Produced in Salford by Nicola Swords.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2013.

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30 minutes

Last on

Wednesday 01:30