Monday, 30 April 2012

Alice

Today is the birthday of Gertrude Stein's companion Alice B. Toklas (born 1877), who has come down to posterity as the creator of an interesting form of fudge (barely eatable as I recall, but worth the effort). On the Radio 4 series Great Lives recently, someone was trying to make the case for her as a major figure who has been unjustly neglected, largely as a result of Gertrude Stein's relentless self-promotion and domineering personality. Well maybe - and Alice was no doubt a nicer person than Gertrude - but probably, like Edith Sitwell, the pair of them belong more to the history of showbusiness than of art. Great collectors though... Unfortunately, ever since Jonathan Law drew it to my attention, I've been unable to disentangle the real Alice B. Toklas from the portrayal of her in the deranged Swedish film Adventures Of Picasso by that notorious deprecator of New Zealand cathedrals Wilfrid Brambell. Perhaps there's a certain truth in Brambell's performance... Here's a taste of it.

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