|Posted by Gertrude Stein|
In her autobiography, I will become Alice; I will write in Alice's voice. She remembers the first time we met...
"Mrs. Stein brought with her three little Matisse paintings, the first modern things to cross the Atlantic. I made her acquaintance at this time of general upset and she showed them to me, she also told me many stories of her life in Paris. Gradually I told my father that perhaps I would leave San Francisco. He was not disturbed by this, after all there was at that time a great deal of going and coming and there were many friends of mine going. Within a year I also had gone and I had come to Paris. There I went to see Mrs. Stein who had in the meantime returned to Paris, and there at her house I met Gertrude Stein. I was impressed by the coral brooch she wore and by her voice. I may say that only three times in my life have I met a genius and each time a bell within me rang and I was not mistaken, and I may say in each case it was before there was any general recognition of the quality of genius in them. The three geniuses of whom I wish to speak are Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Alfred Whitehead. I have met many important people, I have met several great people but I have only known three first class geniuses and in each case on sight within me something rang. In no one of the three cases have I been mistaken. In this way my new full life began."
I clearly remember that day. The entry from my journal reads,
|Alice B. Toklas in 1949|
Photo by Carl Van Vechten
Alice "was a golden brown presence, burned by the Tuscan sun and with a golden glint in her warm brown hair. She was dressed in a warm brown corduroy suit. She wore a large round coral brooch and when she talked, very little, or laughed, a good deal, I thought her voice came from this brooch. It was unlike anyone else's voice — deep, full, velvety, like a great contralto's, like two voices."
We never parted after that day.
Alice is asleep. I will join her. She rises early, and I sleep late. We never see each other in the morning, so I will leave her a note on her pillow, as I often do. It says,
Do not scowl at Hemmingway. He has my attention only a few hours a week; even then, I think of you. Let's browse St-Ouen Puces today and buy those earrings you liked from last week, and we can bring Basket to les Halles de Paris to pick up a chicken for dinner.
(Read more of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas here)