Gertrude Stein, Collaborationist

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Unlikely CollaborationUnlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Faÿ, and the Vichy Dilemma
by Barbara Will
Columbia University Press
274 pages, $35.

 

DURING WORLD WAR TWO, Gertrude Stein translated a collection of speeches by Marshall Pétain, the head of the Vichy government in France. Among them were diatribes that, as Barbara Will shows in Unlikely Collaboration, “announced Vichy policy barring Jews and other ‘foreign elements’ from positions of power in the public sphere and those that called for a ‘hopeful’ reconciliation with Nazi forces.”

Will, the author of previous works on Stein, was astonished to discover that the Jewish-American writer who presented herself as one of the great figures in experimental Modernist literature could be attracted to the Vichy puppet government’s right-wing programs. As she notes in her Gertrude Stein caricaturepreface, however, “the recent controversies surrounding the wartime writings of Paul de Man [and others]… have forced us to rethink the intersection between modernist writings and intellectuals and fascist ideology.”

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