February 2007 The Walrus Kay Armatage “Gertrude Stein’s Radical Grammar”
The publishers do a disservice to the argument and the facts put forth by asserting in the table of contents that the article is about “Why Gertrude Stein hated commas”. She didn’t. She was indifferent to them.
And, as the Poetry and Grammar lecture which Armatage draws upon indicates, she, that is Stein, used them, that is commas, to great effect. My favourite Stein comma passage is from A Novel of Thank You.
She find it just as easy she find it just as easy, she finds it just as easy.
There in that context is the theme of ease in relation to the mark of punctuation, a theme ever so similar to the comma remarks in Poetry and Grammar.
And so, as Armatage leaves readers with a question and a set of observations:
I don’t feel as strongly about commas as Stein did, and who can, really? And there’s the dreaded question mark.
I leave you with a question: can one have a strong feeling of indifference? Yes, I suppose, if one is a very strong anyone.
And so for day 209