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An illustrated edition of Gertrude Stein''s most well-known work, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, bursting with the bright, sophisticated, and fanciful images of artist Maira Kalman

Considered one of the richest and most irreverent biographies in history,  The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was written by Gertrude Stein in the style and voice of her life partner, Alice B. Toklas. Published in 1933 and narrated by Alice, this autobiography begins with her initial move to France in 1907, the day after which she meets Gertrude, sparking a relationship that lasts for nearly four decades. Recounting the vibrant and literary life the two make for themselves among the Parisian avant-garde, Alice opens the doors to the prominent salons they held in their home at rue de Fleurus, hosting fellow expatriate American writers such as Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound as well as artists Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Man Ray, and speaks of the twilight of the Paris belle epoque.

In this edition, the wildly talented Maira Kalman brings this glittering Parisian world to life, and celebrates Stein and Toklas in vivid color. Her whimsical and inimitable illustrations complement the wit and humor of Stein’s narrative, and elevate the exciting intrigues of these famous women and their friends. Inviting readers to experience this book in a completely new way, the illustrated edition of  The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas will prompt a contemporary reading of this cherished and singular classic.

Review

 “Kalman’s signature artwork, color-drenched and featuring heavy black line, is as individual as Stein’s writing . . . Toss out your old editions, this is the one you’ll want to own.” Library Journal, starred review

“THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALICE B. TOKLAS will have you itching to hop a plane to CDG . . . Stein captures both the voice of her partner, Alice Toklas, and the shimmering energy of the time. Kalman brings that world further to life with expressive illustrations of the couple, their home and travels, and contemporaries like Matisse and Cezanne. Her work has a wry, witty quality that lends a sense of immediacy to words written nearly a century ago. It’s just the thing to tote on your next vacation-need we say where to?” - Travel & Leisure 

“Whimsical illustrations meet quirky prose in this tag-team reinvention of the iconic 1933 book. An award-winning New Yorker illustrator, designer and author, Kalman takes on the challenge of illustrating Stein''s iconic ‘auto’ biography of her longtime companion Toklas . . . Kalman''s 70-plus color illustrations, rendered in her distinctive playful and Fauve-esque style, perfectly reflect the artistic and intellectual world of Paris in the 1920s and ''30s . . . A sparkling, imaginative rendition of a literary classic.” – Kirkus, starred review

About the Author

Maira Kalman is an illustrator, author, and designer. She is the author of Beloved Dog, And the Pursuit of Happiness and The Principles of Uncertainty, and the illustrator and co-author of Cake. She is the illustrator of Michael Pollan''s Food Rules and the bestselling edition of William Strunk and E. B. White''s The Elements of Style. Kalman’s work is represented by Julie Saul Projects in Manhattan.

Gertrude Stein was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, on February 3, 1874. At Radcliffe College she studied under William James, who remained her lifelong friend, and then went to Johns Hopkins to study medicine. Abandoning her studies, she moved to Paris with her brother Leo in 1903. At 27 rue de Fleurus, Gertrude Stein lived with Alice B. Toklas, who would remain her companion for 40 years. Not only was she an innovator in literature and a supporter of modern poetry and art, she was the friend and mentor of those who visited her at her now-famous home: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jean Cocteau, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, and Guillaume Apollinaire. Her body of work include  Three LivesTender Buttons, The Making of Americans, and T he Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
526 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Lisbeth
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The story of two very remarkable women and a Who''s Who of the Paris art and literary scene.
Reviewed in the United States on March 19, 2020
I loved reading this book once I got used to the writing style. Having been introduced to them in high school, I knew that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were amazingly prescient art collectors. I had little idea that they were at the epicenter of the arts of their... See more
I loved reading this book once I got used to the writing style. Having been introduced to them in high school, I knew that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were amazingly prescient art collectors. I had little idea that they were at the epicenter of the arts of their time. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, written by Gertrude Stein, was originally published in the 1930''s, but this is a newly reissued edition which is enlivened by the delightful art of Maira Kalman.
Reading this, was an amazing journey to the Paris of Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc. And I loved the moment of realization of my 2 degrees of separation when Aaron Copeland visited Gertrude Stein. (Everyone visited Gertrude Stein, apparently.) Gertrude Stein was Picasso''s close friend. I met Aaron Copeland and am therefore one or two degrees away from Picasso and Matisse. If only I''d known. Anyway, it was a fascinating read and one I may read again soon. There is so much to take in, it''s like being introduced to a ballroom filled with every important figure of the first half of the 20th century - and trying to remember all their names and stories later.
I was drawn to the book because I knew of and enjoy the work of Gertrude Stein and the art of Maira Kalman.
Also, I know and love the art of that time, love Paris and am familiar with many of the characters who appear in the book''s pages. So, for me, it was an obvious match. I very much enjoyed reading it.
16 people found this helpful
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Harry
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Name dropping as literature
Reviewed in the United States on May 29, 2020
Gertrude Stein’s autobiography is also a history of Paris in the early part of the 20c, around the two wars. As the cultural capital of the Western world, Paris attracted the major artists and writers of the time. They all came to Gertrude Stein’s salon, or so it seems. In... See more
Gertrude Stein’s autobiography is also a history of Paris in the early part of the 20c, around the two wars. As the cultural capital of the Western world, Paris attracted the major artists and writers of the time. They all came to Gertrude Stein’s salon, or so it seems. In her autobiography, Gertrude Stein writes “as simply as in Robinson Crusoe.” She writes about herself and she writes about Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Juan Gris, Ernest Hemingway, Jean Cocteau and so many others. She writes about what they said to her and what was going on in their lives. She is effusive in her self-praise, repeatedly stating that she brought “modern writing” to 20th century English novels, along with James Joyce (who never visited her). She wrote without commas long before e e cummings did. There are many anecdotes about everyone in Paris here, and they are all delicious and sometimes wicked. A perfect read for these troubled times.
12 people found this helpful
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Paris fan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Alice Does Live Here Anymore! (With Gertrude and friends, of course.)
Reviewed in the United States on March 3, 2020
What can you say? A classic book, now with classic illustrations making it even more classic! When it was first published in the U.S., no where on its cover did it indicate that it was written by Gertrude Stein and not Alice B. Toklas. (Even today, I''ve seen it shelved in... See more
What can you say? A classic book, now with classic illustrations making it even more classic! When it was first published in the U.S., no where on its cover did it indicate that it was written by Gertrude Stein and not Alice B. Toklas. (Even today, I''ve seen it shelved in bookstores under "T" not "S"!) Now, 87 years later, it has definitely become Alice''s book with her portrait on the cover! What a tribute to the genius of Gertrude and Alice and Maira!
13 people found this helpful
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kitty kat
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The book is beautifully made and the artwork is wonderful. Two of the stars for that alone.
Reviewed in the United States on June 23, 2020
This book is about Gertrude Stein. In other words, Stein wrote a book to, and about, herself. If you want to learn about Toklas, you''ll have to read something else. I cannot tell you how annoying it was to have Stein''s entire name repeated over and over, in almost every... See more
This book is about Gertrude Stein. In other words, Stein wrote a book to, and about, herself. If you want to learn about Toklas, you''ll have to read something else. I cannot tell you how annoying it was to have Stein''s entire name repeated over and over, in almost every sentence. Talk about repetition. It''s rather a bland/flat book and it''s about Stein patting herself on the back. The title is a joke on the readers, since it''s a book about the author herself. It''s an easy read. Uncomplicated and simple. I am not a fan of Stein''s, so this book, while beautiful in and of itself, was a big disappointment.
9 people found this helpful
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John Anderson
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
... interested in Paris during the 20s this is a good book to read
Reviewed in the United States on March 1, 2017
For anyone interested in Paris during the 20s this is a good book to read. The conceit of Stein writing Alice''s autobiography creates some disorienting moments as well as some moments of amusement. As in Sylvia Beach''s book Shakespeare and Company this book reveals the... See more
For anyone interested in Paris during the 20s this is a good book to read. The conceit of Stein writing Alice''s autobiography creates some disorienting moments as well as some moments of amusement. As in Sylvia Beach''s book Shakespeare and Company this book reveals the amazing number of writers and artists who were in Paris at the time. An interesting sideline is Stein and Toklas'' work with the French wounded during the war. Edith Wharton is another writer whose wartime contributions are not commonly known. Any writer trying to get published will commiserate with Stein''s efforts to get her own works out to the public. While Stein''s writing can be difficult to read this book is not. Its lack of commas and sparsity of capital letters soon is hardly noticed. Finally Stein''s wit can often catch the reader off guard in a delightful way.
18 people found this helpful
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Suzanne M. Yuskiw
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
It has a nutty charm....
Reviewed in the United States on July 10, 2019
About as accessible as any of Stein’s writing. The sweet childish style begins to work on one subconsciously, and in fact invades one’s style. There is a yearning to simplify, to jump from one subject to another without any transitions. This certainly is easier than writing... See more
About as accessible as any of Stein’s writing. The sweet childish style begins to work on one subconsciously, and in fact invades one’s style. There is a yearning to simplify, to jump from one subject to another without any transitions. This certainly is easier than writing in the more conventional way. Still, after reading the book, one comes away with a pretty clear picture of both authors. It is a pleasant struggle.
7 people found this helpful
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Paul D.
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Boring
Reviewed in the United States on April 29, 2019
If you crave intimate knowledge of Picasso or Chagall, if you must know what Hemingway wore, then this is your book. If you, like me, really don''t much care, this book is an overlong and boring dud.
4 people found this helpful
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SE
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Stein and Kalman--Compelling!
Reviewed in the United States on May 6, 2020
Re-reading this compelling work by Gertrude Stein was driven by the Maira Kalman illustrations--a perfect marriage.
5 people found this helpful
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The Reading Room
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Imperious Stein
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 9, 2021
A gossipy account, and perhaps the most readable of Stein’s work – 3 Stars This slim volume may be considered a modern classic, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it…and I really didn’t. Whilst it’s not helped by the presentation (the font is tiny, and white space...See more
A gossipy account, and perhaps the most readable of Stein’s work – 3 Stars This slim volume may be considered a modern classic, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it…and I really didn’t. Whilst it’s not helped by the presentation (the font is tiny, and white space minimised to the nth degree), I found myself constantly annoyed by Stein’s self-aggrandisement. Written in just six weeks, only one page is devoted to Alice’s life prior to her arrival in Paris and her first meeting with Stein. From this point on, although the true nature of their personal relationship is carefully avoided, Alice is rarely out of Stein’s company. Accepting that everything here is from Stein’s perspective, and essentially about Stein, it’s unsurprising that this supposed autobiography of her long-term lover (I doubt Stein would have ever viewed Alice as an equal partner) elicits little emotion from Stein. Indeed, the level of detachment in Stein’s written treatment of Alice is shocking at times. Where the book scores in terms of interest is that it presents a fly-on-the-wall perspective, particularly of life in the artisan quarter of Paris. It’s gossipy and notable artists, writers, and personalities of the times are name-dropped as readily as apples from a tree in an autumn storm: Picasso, Hemmingway, Apollinaire, and Jane Heap are all to be found among the pages…but be prepared to read about Stein’s interactions with them, and not Alice’s. The bit that made me chuckle though was Stein’s scathing dismissal of a chance encounter with Natalie Barney…one could almost sense Stein sharpening her claws. Overall: Interesting, gossipy, but it’s still not an easy-read, and is most definitely all about Stein.
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V. Eng
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Bliss
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 10, 2020
Bliss is it to open this book and peruse Kalman''s illustrations! Whether or not I wrill re-read the Autobiography is an unknown; I''m more inclined to re-read What is Remembered. But I will return again and again to the illustrations, followed by the (very) short film ''My...See more
Bliss is it to open this book and peruse Kalman''s illustrations! Whether or not I wrill re-read the Autobiography is an unknown; I''m more inclined to re-read What is Remembered. But I will return again and again to the illustrations, followed by the (very) short film ''My name is Alice B. Toklas'' (Youtube) in which the illustrator, complete with nose, shadow of a moustache and Voice, brings Alice B. back to life, first in an apartment, then in the streets of an American city. Satie plays in the background. Alice lives, thanks to the inspired more-than-just-an-illustrator.
2 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A picture of a certain time
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 29, 2014
A fascinating book, all the more so as the character of Alice B. comes over as though she really did write it. Lots of names are mentioned, some still well known, others not but they seem to be used to give a personal picture of the cultural movements of that period and how...See more
A fascinating book, all the more so as the character of Alice B. comes over as though she really did write it. Lots of names are mentioned, some still well known, others not but they seem to be used to give a personal picture of the cultural movements of that period and how different combinations of artists influenced each other, rather than existing in the vacuum of just being names from the past. Very enjoyable and gossipy, some anecdotes end with memorable quotes, some just fade away. The description of the war years adds a sombre note.
2 people found this helpful
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Sheila Marian Burney
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 5, 2018
Great product and great supplier
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rita
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I loved it; very interesting and well written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2017
I loved it; very interesting and well written. I learnt a lot about Gertrude Stein , Alice and their world
3 people found this helpful
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