November 10, 1934
American modernist author Gertrude Stein lectured in Avery Hall on "Portraits I Have Written and What I Think of Repetition, Whether It Exists or No," under the auspices of the department of English. The Miscellany News quoted at length excerpts from her speech, "as she wrote it, given to the News by Miss Alice B. Toklas." The text is from Stein's essay "Portraits and Repetition," which was published in Lectures in America (1935).
"The strange thing about the realization of existence is that like a train moving there is no real realization of it moving if it does not move against something and so that is what a generation does it shows that moving is existing. So then there are generations and in a way that too is not important because, and this thing is a thing to know, if and we in America have tried to make this thing a real thing, if the movement, that is any movement, is lively enough, perhaps it is possible to know that it is moving even if it is not moving against anything. And so in a way the American way has been not to need that generations are existing. If this were really true and perhaps it is really true then really and truly there is a new way of making portraits of men and women and children. And I, I in my way have tried to do this thing....
"Then also there is the important question of repetition and is there any such thing. Is there repetition or is there insistence. I am inclined to believe there is no such thing as repetition. And really how can there be.... Think about all the detective stories everybody reads. The kind of crime is the same, and the idea of the story is very often the same...always have the same scene, the same scene, the kind of invention that is necessary to make a general scheme is very limited in everybody's experience, every time one of the hundreds of times a newspaper man makes fun of my writing and of my repetition he always has the same theme...."