"What Are Masterpieces and Why Are There So Few of them." Gertrude Stein. 1935.
One-minute review: Convoluted sentences. Erratic punctuation. Miss Stein’s idea about masterpieces is almost like TS Eliot's effacement of the author's personality in creating a work of poetry. Stein says if you remember you are you, you cannot create a masterpiece. You are limited by your personality and identity. If you efface your identity, you can create a masterpiece. Automatic writing? Sensible ideas are occasionally thrown into what appears to be a random collection of thoughts in stream of consciousness. But the piece is well organized. She moves from defining a masterpiece to explaining why there are so few masterpieces--most writers remember themselves and their identities and therefore cannot produce anything truly original. I guess.
Quote: “And that is what a masterpiece is not—it may be unwelcome but it is never dull.”
Comment: Now I understand "A rose is a rose is a rose" or I think I do. RayS.
Best American Essays of the Century. Editors: Oates and Atwan.