With Valentine’s tyranny waiting in the wings, I can’t resist to come back to Gertrude and SEX. It’s my hobby horse, as you know by now, my violon d’Ingres in French. What I would wish for the ALA conference on Stein (May 27 -30 in SF) is a hot debate on sex and Stein’s erotic writing. To be precise: on the bizarre and sometimes absurdly funny speculations about Stein’s frigidity by scholars like Ulla Dydo, which soon spread to become assertions in the gossip mill of non-scholars like Janet Malcolm. I have to say for Dydo that she is grand enough to admit errors. (In Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises she readily takes back and corrects some huge errors from her earlier A Stein Reader, so there’s hope.) Is Stein only “Baby” who wants nothing but cuddling? Is she only the husband who dutifully gives “cows” (orgasms) to Alice the wife? Or is this academic-schematic nonsense? Is it a crime against Stein, to be picked up under the major conference theme of detective stories?
Yes, hot debates — with quotes flung at the puritanical frigidity-faction! Wishful thinking, I am afraid. But here’s one I would for sure throw at the doubters :
By a little baby that is wet.
Wet from kisses.
There was a good big cow came out.
Out of a little baby which is called stout.
Stout with kisses.
There will be a good cow come out.
out of a little baby I don’t doubt.
Neither does she covered with kisses.
She is misses.
(from: “The King or Something (The Public is Invited to Dance)”