Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia
Stein’s Effusions Embody Dodge and the Revolutionary Concept of “The Villa Curonia”

814776970.0.l.jpg

Dublin Core

Title

Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia
Stein’s Effusions Embody Dodge and the Revolutionary Concept of “The Villa Curonia”

Subject

Art, Modernism, and Bohemia

Description

Stein’s Effusions Embody Dodge and the Revolutionary Concept of “The Villa Curonia”

Mabel Dodge was the subject of dozens of portraits by painters, photographers, and perhaps most notably, Gertrude Stein. Stein worked in her medium of choice and instead of visual representation presented Dodge and her villa in a form of experimental modernist prose. The “experience” Stein’s prose creates further conveys how Dodge’s presence facilitated and furthered artistic exploration and open discourse for Dodge’s myriad of visitors. Because of the diligent work of Dodge, Stein’s prose would become a huge attraction at the Armory Show, being the only non-visual arts piece.

Armory Show historian Sherley Staples explained the two women’s combined role in the piece as she wrote, “Dodge's own reproductions of the portrait, handed out to all visitors and pasted to the walls of her home, aided the distribution of Stein's work as well, and Dodge's introduction, "Speculations," introduced Stein as a bohemian expatriate,” which conveys how the piece was radical in style as well as how Dodge’s role in her own portrait brought Stein’s work into the mainstream.

Through modernist literary devices Stein employs, such as her sentence structure and verb tense usage, Stein mirrors the experience of being in the presence of Mabel Dodge rather than just a typical physical depiction of a portrait. Stein’s work displays the radical nature of the space purposefully crafted by Dodge at the Villa Curonia that would eventually translate across the ocean when Dodge established an even greater “experiment” at her house in Washington square. Rudnick comments on Dodge’s continued literary portals writing, “The literary portraits of the American character and cultural traits she seemed to embody began in Florence and proliferated over the next three decades,” conveying the influence of Stein’s piece for the representation of Mabel Dodge in Bohemia and beyond (910).

Despite the somewhat cryptic nature of the prose, the devices Stein uses actively depict Dodge’s open ideology. When Stein writes, “So much breathing has the same place and there must not be so much suggestion,” she is conveying Dodge’s belief in the complicated role in hosting discussion and artistic expression in that she does not seek to guide or “suggest” paths of exploration. Rather, Dodge wishes to open all paths to discover new knowledge (Luhan 2201).

Stein’s piece isn’t easy to get through. Like most early stream of consciousness works Stein’s piece at first glance appears to be a long stream of none sense. Her prose focuses on the very “modernist” ideals of living and observing in the moment. Because of the modernist ideology present in the prose the majority of the piece is more a reflection of Stein’s emotions and passing feelings than an actual narrative or work with a concrete “purpose”. To have a clear line of interpretation would be inherently not “modernist”. Though this doesn’t make “Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia” the type of prose that would be read for easy entertainment—the piece does valiantly depict the atmosphere of the villa which Dodge crafted. Modernist art as well as literature in general asked more of the consumer or viewer to engage with the work—so Stein’s writing presents this quality.

Through verb tense, sentence structure, and repetition Stein portrays Dodge’s ability to facilitate and encourage artists and revolutionaries around her. Stein begins, “The days are wonderful and the nights are also wonderful,” which conveys Dodges warm and open nature through the use of the present tense in combination with the repetition of “wonderful” which generates a tone of peace and calm (Luhan 2204). Helen Baralonini supports Stein’s depiction as she comments how Dodge’s, “Italianization,” with her organization of the villa, “showed in her need for harmony with her surroundings, her bond with nature and with the simple broad base of daily life in which every phase is honored as ritual handed down from eons past and connected to that past,” (280). The harmony and acceptance created by the villa and Dodge herself is crucial as she takes on the role as someone who can further discourse and allow artists to create without inhibition.

Parallel structure and chiasmus are also employed to convey the openness and accepting nature of the space created by Dodge. These structures create the idea that the atmosphere of the space is all encompassing as well as the idea of there being no direct answer, no beginning or end—simply total and complete liberation from inhibition. Stein writes, “There is the paling that is not reddening, there is the reddening that is not reddening, there is that protection, there is that destruction, there is not the present lessening there is the argument of increasing,” which uses both chiasmus and a repetition of the phrase “there is” to further establish the importance of experience of the present (Luhan 2206). Her use of chiasmus creates ambiguity even in a physical description such as “paling” and “reddening,” while the use of the present progressive also creates the idea of constant change and movement.

Stein expresses the lack of expectations placed on the visitors of the Villa Curonia as she describes, “This is not smiling. This is comfortable. There is the comforting of predilection. An open object is establishing the loss that there was when the vase was not inside the place,” (Luhan 2208). Stein explains that this is “not smiling” in order to convey that the experience of the villa transcends concrete or complete human emotion while also reinforcing the idea of liberation in the space with words like “comfortable” and the “comforting”. In the almost abrupt conclusion of the piece Stein directly alludes to the visitor coming in and out of the villa as she accounts, “the union is won and the division is the explicit visit. There is not all of any visit,” which also functions to convey how despite the strata of different guests and visitor that Dodge has a way of facilitating a common human “union” among them (Luhan 2209).

Stein crafts sentence structure and verb tense carefully to amount to a detailed illustration of the radical nature of the space which Dodge created. Her prose mirror the openness of the space as well as other modernist concepts like the value of existing in the moment.


Baralonini, Helen. "Mabel Dodge Luhan: in search of a personal South."
Southwest Review 8.3 (1998): 280-1. Print.

Rudnick, Lois. Mabel Dodge Luhan: New Woman, New Worlds (Kindle Locations 910-911). University of New Mexico Press. Kindle Edition

Stein, Gertrude and Luhan, Mabel Dodge. Intimate Memories: The Autobiography of Mabel Dodge Luhan (Kindle Location 2200-2010). University of New Mexico Press. Kindle Edition.
Staples, Sherley, and American Studies Department. "The Part Played by Women."
The International Armory Show. Ed. American Studies Program at the
University of Virginia. University of Virginia, May 2001. Web. 8 June 2016.


Creator

Gertrude Stein

Source

WorldCat

Date

1912

Contributor

Mabel Dodge

Format

Prose

Language

English

Type

Literature

Text Item Type Metadata

Text

Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia

The days are wonderful and the nights are wonderful and the life is pleasant. . . . Bargaining is something and there is not that success. The intention is what if application has that accident results are appearing. They did not darken.That was not an adulteration. So much breathing has not the same place when there is so much beginning. So much breathing has not the same place when the ending is lessening. So much breathing has the same place and there must not be so much suggestion. There can be there the habit that there is if there is not need of resting. The absence is not alternative. Any time is the half of all the noise and there is not that disappointment. There is no distraction. An argument is clear. Packing is not the same when the place which has all that is not emptied. There came there the hall and this was not the establishment It had not all the meaning. Blankets are warmer in the summer and the winter is not lonely. This does not assure the forgetting of the intention when there has been done and there is every way to send some. There does not happen to be a dislike for water. This is not heartening. As the expedition is without the participation of the question there will be nicely all that energy. They can arrange that the little color is not bestowed. They can leave it in regaining that intention. It is mostly repaid. There can be an irrigation. They have the whole paper and they send it in some package. It is not inundated. A bottle that has all the time to stand open is not so clearly shown when there is green color there. This is not the only way to change it. A little raw potato and then all that softer does happen to show that there has been enough. It changes the expression. It is not darker and the present time is the best time to agree. This which has been feeling is what has the appetite and the patience and the time to say. This is not collaborating. All the attention is when there is not enough to do. This does not determine a question. The only reason that there is not that pressure is that there is a suggestion. There are many going. A delight is not bent. There has been that little wagon. There is that precision when here has not been an imagination. There has not been that kind of abandonment. Nobody is alone. If the spread that is not a piece removed from the bed is likely to be whiter then certainly the sprinkling is not drying. There can be the message where the print is pasted and this does not mean that there is that esteem. There can be the likelihood of all the days not coming later and this will not deepen the collected dim version. A sap that is that adaptation is the drinking that is not increasing. There can be that lack of any quivering. That does not originate every invitation. There is not wedding instruction. There is not all that filling. There is the climate that is not existing. There is that plainer. There is the likeness, lying of liking likely likeness. There is that dispensation. There is the paling that is not reddening, there is the reddening that is not reddening, there is that protection, there is that destruction, there is not the present lessening there is the argument of increasing. There is that that is not that which is resting. There is not that occupation. There is that particular half of directing that there is that particular whole direction that is not all the meaning of any combination. Gliding is not heavily moving. Looking is not vanishing. Laughing is not evaporating. There can be that climax. There can be the same dress. There can be an old dress. There can be the way there is that way there is that which is not that charging what is a regular way of paying. There has been William. All the time is likely. There is the condition. There has been admitting. There is not the print. There is that smiling. There is the season. There is that where there is not that which is where there is where there is what there is which is beguiling. There is a paste. Abandon a garden and the house is bigger. This is not smiling. This is comfortable. There is the comforting of predilection. An open object is establishing the loss that there was when the vase was not inside the place. It was not wandering. There was not that velvet spread when there was a pleasant head. The color was paler. The moving regulating is not a distinction. The place is there. Likely there is not that departure when the whole place that has that texture is so much in the way. It is not there to stay. It does not change that way. A pressure is not later. There is the same. There is not the shame. There is that pleasure. There is that desire and there is not pleasure and the place is filling the only space that is placed where all the piling is not adjoining. There is not that distraction. Praying has intention and relieving that situation is not solemn. There comes that way. The time that is the smell of the plain season is not showing that the water is running. There is not all that breath. There is the use of the stone and there is the place of the stuff and there is the practice of expending questioning. There is not that differentiation. There is that which is in time. There is the room that is the largest place when there is all that is where there is space. There is not that perturbation. The legs that show are not the certain ones that have been used. All legs are used. There is no action meant. The particular space is not beguiling. There is that participation. It is not passing any way. It has that to show. It is why there is no exhalation. There is all there is when there has all there has where there is what there is. That is what is done when there is done what is done and the union is won and the division is the explicit visit. There is not all of any visit.


Luhan, Mabel Dodge. Intimate Memories: The Autobiography of Mabel Dodge Luhan (Kindle Location 2200-2010). University of New Mexico Press. Kindle Edition.

Original Format

Printed prose