In the two new Yale University Press editions of Gertrude Stein’s works, the novel Ida and the experimental poem Stanzas in Meditation (both out January 17), readers will find comprehensive criticism and working drafts of the works, the latter of which reveals the fraught and jealous relationship Stein had with her lover and editor Alice B. Toklas.
Since Stanzas in Meditation's original publication, scholars have discovered the poem’s existence in several versions: a manuscript written by Stein and two typescripts Toklas prepared, the second of which she insisted Stein make revisions to when she detected references to Stein’s former lover, May Bookstaver. YUP’s Stanzas edition, edited by Susannah Hollister and Emily Setina, includes a preface, the original manuscript, as well as an appendix with the textual variants among the poem’s several versions. This edition, YUP hopes, will give readers “the sum of its versions.”
Stein’s novel Ida is the other new YUP edition. Originally published in 1941 (which readers will find in this edition), Ida explores the effects of celebrity, and was written in the late 1930s by Stein. The new edition documents the full record of Ida’s creation, from Stein’s drafts and other archival materials to the finished novel itself. Also included is editor Logan Esdale’s critical commentary.
“Stein’s strong influence on generations of poets, especially those interested in literary experimentalism, extended through much of the last century and continues into this one,” wrote Hollister and Setina in an e-mail to PW. “But some of her most ground-breaking works--works she considered among her highest achievements--have been not been available in the forms she conceived of for them. The new Stein editions from Yale let readers experience the full extent of Stein's innovations and appreciate their relation to both private and public dimensions of another of her great creative works, her literary career itself.”