My Summer with Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds and all those other golden Americans abroad

Henri Matisse. Woman with a Hat, 1905. San Fra...
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It happened quite by accident but I’ve been deeply immersed in the golden era of Paris evoked by Woody Allen‘s romantic comedy Midnight in Paris.  While the film cast a golden glow on the Paris salons and cafe life of the 1920s, SFMOMA  also has an exhibit of the Picassos, Matisses and other incredible works of the period acquired by Gertrude Stein. We spent a wonderful afternoon at the museum soaking in the art, artists and millieau they evoked.

And next on my list is the Contemporary Jewish Museum in S.F. which has a complementary show of the life and literary works of the era’s most prolific collector Gertrude Stein.

Then a book I’d ordered on CD from the library came in last week : The Paris Wife,   an engaging novel evoking the literary and social coterie of Hemingway and his wife Hadley during their Paris years when they kept company with such as Ezra Pound, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and, of course, Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas. These were wild and extravagant times when drinking, bullfighting and womanizing was the order of the day. The dialogue captures the cultural moment in vivid detail, revealing both the petty rivalries, wild appetites and creative genius of these Americans and Europeans abroad in the Roaring 20s before WWII and The Great Depression.

It’s been a wonderful escape from the political insanity of this summer…to live la vie boheme along the Seine in the company of the greatest artists and writers of 20th Century.

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