978-0-312-19832-9 / 9780312198329

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About the book:

Baby Precious Always Shines, a delightful selection from the 300 love notes that Alice B. Toklas accidentally deposited with the rest of Gertrude Stein's papers in the Beinecke Library at Yale, would not have been possible before the 1980s, when the locked cabinet in which they were kept was finally opened to scholars. In her excellent introduction, Kay Turner (whose other books include I Dream of Madonna: Women's Dreams of the Goddess of Pop) explains that with their baby talk and constant blessings, the notes provide "a tantalizing mosaic of a marriage between two women that was built to last." Composed in the "word-inverted, long-breathed, rolling, repetitive, refluent style that Stein invented," they touch on everyday events in the Stein-Toklas household and reiterate Stein's love and desire for Toklas. Many seem to have been left for Toklas to find in the morning beside the manuscripts that Stein had written during the night. A few were written by Toklas to Stein. Turner also offers a convincing new reading of Stein's famously obscure "cows" (in A Book Concluding with As a Wife Has a Cow: A Love Story and elsewhere), previously thought to signify female orgasm; she argues that Stein and Toklas subscribed to the "cult of regularity" that swept Europe in the first decades of the 20th century. Indeed, the love notes, despite their Steinian verbal play, leave little doubt that the recurring cows, "now sweet smelly and complete," are bowel movements--further evidence, for Turner, of the women's extraordinary intimacy, their love "express[ing] itself daily in the rituals of bodily caretaking."

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