A magnificent asparagus, and also a fountain

ImageWednesday evening, April 30th, Deborah Levy, our Visiting Professor of Writing in Illustration delivered a lecture on Gertrude Stein.

A faith in oneself as an individual voice, a determination to engage the world and qualities of energetic curiosity emerged as themes in Levy’s Lecture. These themes were located in Gertrude Stein’s personal journey and involvement in the Parisian Avant Garde of the early 20th century.

The lecture was not driven by a particular historical or theoretical enquiry into the complex life or work of Gertrude Stein, but by a series of illustrative encounters; her challenge to the norms of punctuation, her use of non-linear literary form, her life with Alice B Toklas and conversations with Picasso. Deborah’s lecture adopted a voice which was both poetic and musical, subverting the tone of the lecture into a form which approached that of a song where her readings of Stein’s poetry illuminated a text which encouraged the audience to have faith in creative acts, intellectual rigour and play.


A light in the moon the only light is on Sunday. What was the sensible decision. The sensible decision was that notwithstanding many declarations and more music, not even notwithstanding the choice and a torch and a collection, notwithstanding the celebrating hat and a vacation and even more noise than cutting, notwithstanding Europe and Asia and being overbearing, not even notwithstanding an elephant and a strict occasion, not even withstanding more cultivation and some seasoning, not even with drowning and with the ocean being encircling, not even with more likeness and any cloud, not even with terrific sacrifice of pedestrianism and a special resolution, not even more likely to be pleasing. The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong, the care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing. The care with which there is incredible justice and likeness, all this makes a magnificent asparagus, and also a fountain.

Gertrude Stein

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