Sunday, June 19, 2011

First Lines Second Thoughts — The Making of Americans




First Lines Second Thoughts is a look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening words stand alone as poetry? Today we look at The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein. Published in 1925.

Once
an angry man
dragged his father
along the ground
through his own orchard

“Stop!”
cried the groaning old man at last,

“Stop!
I did not drag my father beyond this tree.”   


— Gertrude Stein


This modernist tale of the fictional Dehning and Hersland families is properly known as The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family's Progress. According to Gertrude Stein, the important matter of the "history" is the marrying of Julia Dehning to Alfred Hersland.