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Cover for Charmed Circle

Charmed Circle

Gertrude Stein and Company

James R. Mellow


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Avant-garde Paris comes to life in this “meticulous and loving reconstruction of the period” (The New York Times Book Review)

On almost every Saturday of the first half of the twentieth century, Gertrude Stein would open her door to the likes of Picasso and Matisse, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Cocteau and Apollinaire, welcoming them into a salon alive with vivid avant-garde paintings and sparkling intellectual conversation. In Charmed Circle, James R. Mellow has re-created this fascinating world and the complex woman who dominated it. His engaging narrative illuminates Stein’s writing—now celebrated along with the work of such literary giants as Joyce and Woolf—including her difficult early periods, which adapted cubism and abstraction to the written word. Rich with detail and insight, it conveys both the serene rhythms of daily life with her devoted partner, Alice B. Toklas, and the radical pulse and dramatic upheavals of her exciting era.

Spanning the years from 1903, when Stein first arrived in Paris, to her final days at the end of the Second World War, Charmed Circle is a penetrating and lively account of a writer at the heart of modernity.

Praise For Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company

“A rich and compelling portrait of an extraordinary personage and a mural of the people in her life. She has been given a biographer worthy of her.” —Los Angeles Times

“Entertaining and comprehensive . . . a delightful book.” —The New Yorker

Henry Holt and Co., 9780805073515, 576pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2003

About the Author

James R. Mellow was the author of two other highly acclaimed biographies, "Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Times," which won the American Book Award for biography in 1983, and "Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald," as well as "Walker Evans," an unfinished biography that was published posthumously. A regular reviewer for "The New York Times," he died in 1997.