Ulla E. Dydo: On "Patriarchal Poetry"

In the world of Stein's writing the bonds that tie words to things are loosened and names split off from objects. Stein attempts to perceive everything fresh, as if she had never seen it before. She refuses to use words merely because they are associated with events or because grammatical habit prescribes their use in the construction of sentences. No class of words is more important than any other. Stein constructs with prepositions, pronouns and conjunctions as much as with nouns and verbs. There is no hierarchy of words or of usage. In 1927 she wrote a piece entitled "Patriarchal Poetry," which implied that patriarchal poetry, along with other hierarchical systems, was dead and needed to be laid to rest.

Patriarchal Poetry might be withstood.

Patriarchal Poetry at peace.

Patriarchal Poetry a piece.

Patriarchal Poetry in peace.

Patriarchal Poetry in pieces.

Patriarchal Poetry as peace to return to Patriarchal Poetry at peace.

Patriarchal Poetry or peace to return to Patriarchal Poetry or pieces of Patriarchal Poetry.

She pays Patriarchal Poetry respect by capitalisation, but capitalisation of something that is already in pieces becomes a backhanded compliment.

Patriarchal organisation is vertical, hierarchical and fixed. The landscape of Stein's world is horizontal, democratic and fluid. In it, all things and all words are of equal value; nothing is more important than anything else nor are words permanently attached to things. To call hers a comic world means not that nothing is sacred but that everything is sacred, from small to large, from near to far, from word to word. Her meditations require slow reading, without syntactical assumptions. The pleasure of reading Stein is the pleasure of spreading out the words in a plentitude that creates not uniformity but fullness of possibility.


Title Ulla E. Dydo: On "Patriarchal Poetry" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Shirley Neuman, Ira B. Nadel Criticism Target Gertrude Stein
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 21 May 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Gertrude Stein and the Making of Literature
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