- Visual Economies of Queer Desire in Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
- Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 70, Number 4, Winter 2014
- pp. 49-83
- View Citation
- Additional Information
This essay tracks the dynamics of vision that animate Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. It argues that the text uses Toklas’s loving gaze to establish and recognize Stein’s masculinity, as well as to highlight the importance to modernism of her masculine homosocial bonds with her colleagues. The Autobiography depicts those ties as very congenial with men such as Sherwood Anderson and with masculine women such as Jane Heap, but more fraught—and more likely to induce perspectival vacillation—with Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso. This multiperspectivalism structures the book and mobilizes multiple narratives of modernism’s emergence. In so doing, The Autobiography eventually reframes Stein’s masculinity and relationship with Toklas as part of the appearance of the new that the text initially attributes solely to the formal properties of modern art and writing.