Gertrude Stein Gets a Snarky Rejection Letter from Publisher (1912)

stein-rejection-letter

Gertrude Stein considered herself an experimental writer and wrote what The Poetry Foundation calls “dense poems and fictions, often devoid of plot or dialogue,” with the result being that “commercial publishers slighted her experimental writings and critics dismissed them as incomprehensible.” Take, for example, what happened when Stein sent a manuscript to Alfred C. Fifield, a London-based publisher, and received a rejection letter mocking her prose in return. According to Letters of Note, the manuscript in question was published many years later as her modernist novel, The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress (1925). You can hear Stein reading a selection from the novel below. Also find other Gertrude Stein works in our collections of Free eBooks and Free Audio Books.

via Electric Literature

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  1. steinfan says . . . | June 28, 2013 / 8:22 am

    Marty Martin’s brilliant one character play “Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein” references this letter.

    The play has Gertrude sitting in her living room remembering her life. She talks about how hard it is to write and how you are afraid to show it to anyone for fear it will be rejected.

    “And although it was a rejection it was not a no no no it was a yes an unmistakable one at that is what critics refer to as style; style.”

    Thank you for sharing the actual letter, I have always wondered what he actually wrote.

  2. Ava Lanche says . . . | June 28, 2013 / 11:58 am

    An exellent example how poetry can be inspiring! This letter – if we don’t pay attention to the author’s pettiness – is nearly a poem!

  3. Jeremy David Acton says . . . | October 5, 2013 / 2:56 am

    I think this critic had a very good point to make to Ms Stein. I think her “Making of Americans” is a load of boring rubbish.

  4. blackbower says . . . | October 5, 2013 / 5:27 am

    as opposed to scintillating rubbish? do, share some of your rejection letters.

  5. IamBullyproofMusic says . . . | October 8, 2013 / 1:11 pm

    This particular publisher would probably have had lots of fun leaving mean comments on youtube. not just one. not only one. Just sayin’.

  6. Michael Taylor says . . . | November 29, 2013 / 9:56 pm

    That is a hilarious piece of criticism. I enjoy Stein’s reading here but jeez, I wish more literary criticism had half the wit that this piece does.

  7. Naked Jake says . . . | November 29, 2013 / 10:18 pm

    you’re entitled to your opinion, sir, but you’re NOT entitled to having taken seriously

  8. Jeremy David Acton says . . . | November 30, 2013 / 4:08 am

    You are welcome to listen to her stuck record redundancies.

  9. Jeremy David Acton says . . . | November 30, 2013 / 4:08 am

    You are welcome to listen to her stuck record redundancies.

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