The Making of Americans

by Pericles Lewis

Gertrude Stein’s mammoth Making of Americans (1925) is the story of β€œthe old people in a new world, the new people made out of the old.” Like much of her pre-war work, The Making of Americans makes use of patterns of repetition and variation at the sentence level. Stein here uses a contrapuntal sentence structure that resembles a musical fugue:

Men in their living have many things inside them they have in them, each one of them has it in him, his own way of feeling himself important inside in him, they have in them all of them their own way of beginning, their own way of ending, their own way of working, their own way of having loving inside them and loving come out from them, their own way of having anger inside them and letting their anger come out from inside them, their own way of eating, their own way of drinking, their own way of sleeping, their own way of doctoring.[1]

Stein wrote The Making of Americans from 1903 to 1911, in the avant-garde atmosphere of Paris, but it was published only in 1925.[2]

  1. ↑ Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans, quoted in Richard Bridgman, Gertrude Stein in Pieces (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 73.
  2. ↑ This page has been adapted from Pericles Lewis’s Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (Cambridge UP, 2007), p. 105.