“America is my country and Paris is my home town.”
May concludes the six-month USA tour of Gertrude and Alice that made Gertrude so famous that ten years later, when GIs had liberated France, soldiers would knock at her door to say hello. Paris had become the place where one could look up Gertrude Stein and knock at her door. “I like to be a celebrity a real celebrity who can decide who they want to meet and say so and they come or do not come as you want them. I never imagined that would happen to me to be a celebrity like that but it did and when it did I liked it…” (Everybody’s Autobiography)
During Stein’s absence, however, Paris had also become a literary battleground. “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” had been read (and misread, in ad-hoc translations) by the artists and writers who appeared in the book. A good number of them were not amused. They set out to rebut Stein’s portrayal of them and her story of the birth of modernism in a pamphlet published in February 1935 as a supplement to the magazine transition. This “Testimony against Gertrude Stein” contained attacks by Matisse and Braque, Maria and Eugene Jolas (the editors of transition) and, most viciously, by Tristan Tzara who stamped her as “a clinical case of megalomania.” “Far be it from me to throw any doubt upon the fact that Miss Stein is a genius,” Tzara wrote. “We have seen plenty of those. Not that Miss Toklas is convinced of it. To tell the truth, all this would have no importance if it took place in the family circle between two maiden ladies greedy for fame and publicity.”
Stein was not happy with this concerted attack but while she publicly brushed it off as “infantish” it only served to make her book more famous. In 1933 already, Stein had had a premonition. In her highly experimental “Stanzas in Meditation” she wrote:
“I will be well welcome when I come.
Because I am coming.
Certainly I come having come.”