In The Making of Americans, Gertrude Stein sets out to tell "a history of a family's progress," radically reworking the traditional family saga novel to encompass her vision of personality and psychological relationships. As the history progresses over three generations, Stein also meditates on her own writing, on the making of The Making of Americans, and on America.
Gertrude Stein (1874 1946) was born in Pittsburgh to a prosperous German-Jewish family. She was educated in France and the United States, worked under the pioneering psychologist William James, and later studied medicine. With her brother Leo she was an important patron of the arts, acquiring works by many contemporary artists, most famously Picasso, while her home became a popular meeting place for writers and painters from Matisse to Hemingway. Her books include Three Lives, Tender Buttons, and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. William Gaddis (1922-98) stands among the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. The winner of two National Book Awards (for "J R"  and "A Frolic of His Own" ), he wrote five novels during his lifetime, including "Carpenter's Gothic "(1985), "Agap? Agape" (published posthumously in 2002), and his early masterpiece "The Recognitions" (1955). He is loved and admired for his stylistic innovations, his unforgettable characters, his pervasive humor, and the breadth of his intellect and vision. Steven Meyer is Associate Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis.