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Shucks, we've got glamour girls too! Gertrude Stein, Bennett Cerf and the culture of celebrity

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posted on 14.03.2016 by Lise Jaillant
© The Trustees of Indiana University. September 1933 was a turning point in Gertrude Stein's career. That month, Alfred Harcourt published The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and Bennett Cerf issued Three Lives in the Modern Library, a series of cheap reprints marketed as "the world's best books." While most scholars have linked Stein's celebrity to the Autobiography, the publication of her experimental texts by the Modern Library and Random House has been largely overlooked. This article is organized around two central claims. First, it shows that unlike Alfred Harcourt, Cerf adopted a long-term strategy by publishing Stein's difficult writings, as well as her more accessible texts. Second, from 1934, Cerf used new media to position Stein as an atypical literary star. After the publication of Three Lives, he organized her tour in America and promoted her using his knowledge of the Hollywood entertainment industry. Blurring the boundaries between print and broadcasting, Cerf created a unique strategy for marketing Stein, a strategy that enabled her to stand out in a crowded literary marketplace.

History

School

  • The Arts, English and Drama

Department

  • English and Drama

Published in

Journal of Modern Literature

Volume

39

Issue

1

Pages

149 - 169

Citation

JAILLANT, L., 2015. Shucks, we've got glamour girls too! Gertrude Stein, Bennett Cerf and the culture of celebrity. Journal of Modern Literature, 39(1), pp. 149-169.

Publisher

© Trustees of Indiana University

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2015

Notes

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Modern Literature and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.2979/jmodelite.39.1.149

ISSN

0022-281X

eISSN

1529-1464

Language

en

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