The agreeable eye

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Citation (75)

Stein is, rather, demonstrating that writing about the true Gertrude isn’t simply a matter of writing truthfully but involves applying force to the great containers of literary writing, to the forms that at the moment seem most comfortable, most beautiful, and instead are a death trap for our intention to write “truthfully.” […] This is what upends the traditional relations between invented story, autobiographical truth, and biographical truth, making Stein’s book a great lesson for the “I” who wants to write, surely a more stimulating lesson, today, than what we might get from Hemingway’s books. Ernest’s mistake is to succeed by prudently respecting the rules of an old, well-known game; Gertrude’s virtue is to succeed by sticking to the old, well-known game but in order to disrupt it and bend it to her purposes.

—Elena Ferrante (In the Margins, trans. Ann Goldstein, 56%)


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