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There is no doubt that Gertrude Stein is one of the most influential writers of the Twentieth Century (DeKoven, 1988; DeKoven & Vechten, 1996). Her role in the development and advancement of modernism was pivotal and acknowledged by many other artists and writers of her time, such as Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso (Giroud, Picasso, & Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 2006). After moving from the United States to Europe, in 1903, and settling into an apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus, Stein and her brother became central figures in the Parisian art world. Collecting art pieces, supporting emerging artists and gathering some of the most prominent modernist artists of the time (Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Cocteau and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name a few) at their well-known apartment in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, Stein helped shape the Modernist movement (Stendhal, 1995).
An advocate of the avant-garde, Stein’s own writing had an experimental, hermetic, repetitive and humorous style. One of her most widely known quotations is “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”, from the 1913 poem “Sacred Emily”. Greatly influenced by the modernist visual arts, her work evokes Cubism and collage, while her main influence was the work of Paul Cézanne, leading Stein to develop the notion of equality, where “the whole field of the canvas is important”. For Stein, every element in the text mattered as much as any other, be it a part of speech, a word, a space or punctuation mark (Grahn, 1989). During the course of her career, she published poetry, plays and novels, among which her most well known work, “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas”. Published in 1933, the autobiography was written in the voice of the author’s life partner, Alice B. Toklas, and depicted their time in the effervescent Parisian cultural scene, establishing Stein as an important figure in both the Modernist and Feminist movements (Przybycien & Gomes, 2007; Stendhal, 1995). Written in a simpler and easier language than Stein’s usual works, the book became a commercial success and brought the author to mainstream literature.
However, as Stein’s writing might be seen as difficult and hermetic, a large portion of it is still little known, including her books for children. “The World is Round”, published in 1939, is filled with unpunctuated prose and poetry, questioning the relationship between words and exploring a child’s sense of being. In 1957, Stein’s intended follow-up to her first children’s book was published: “To do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays”, a unique and whimsical play on words. Written in the 1940’s, “To do” was rejected at the time by publishers who believed it too complex for children, and remained unpublished during Stein’s lifetime.
Therefore, this paper aims to study Gertrude Stein’s books for children, “The World is Round” and “To do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays”, providing an overview of both books along with an analysis of their relevance in today’s literary scene, in order to explore and unearth two of the most compelling and intriguing books for children ever written.
Gertrude Stein was a revolutionary writer, poet and playwright. Not only that, she deeply influenced the artists who would, along with her, shape a groundbreaking literary and artistic movement that would radically break with nineteenth-century tradition and bring about a new concept of art (Ástráður Eysteinsson., 1990). Stein was a woman who was ahead of her time and challenged her place in society by being independent, highly educated, influential and carving her name in literary history (Dydo & Rice, 2003). Sadly, much of Stein’s work, particularly her books for children, is relatively unknown. Due to the complex nature of her writing and remarkable personality, many people know of Gertrude Stein, however only a few have actually read her (Stendhal, 1995), let alone the “The World is Round” and “To do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays”, books intended for children. Further study and exposure of these least known works could help draw attention to this incredible and relevant artist, bringing to light books that might have been overlooked in the past decades, but that certainly enrich and broaden the world of children’s literature.
3.1. GENERAL AIMS:
3.2. SPECIFIC AIMS:
Access to the internet has become indispensable (Hoffman, Novak & Venkatesh, 2004). Either in a professional environment or for private use, such as social media or online purchases, the internet has reshaped people´s access to information and made it possible for someone to connect to another person halfway around the world in seconds, or close business deals and make payments in fast and easy ways. With the spread of free internet access, a great number of people could have access to education, distribute and receive information, create or expand businesses and so on (Wellman & Haythornthwaite, 2002 ). However, up to 60% of the world population does not have access to the internet today, and still in many countries access is very limited. In 2015, a Global Conference on Cyberspace was held in The Hague, sharing expertise and identifying gaps in the global cyber capacity, with the goal that the internet may be free, open and secure for all. One of the speakers of the conference, Nnenna Nwakanma, Africa regional coordinator at the World Wide Web Foundation, stated at the time: “All of the people. All of the Internet. All of the time!”. Nevertheless, someone might argue that free access would be detrimental to the quality of the service, without monetary return to internet providers and less market competitiveness. Yet, a shift in the system would happen, where not the providers, but the people originating content would be the ones most compensated. Therefore, free and unlimited access to the internet could bring about great social and economic improvement to millions of lives the world over, and should be something to strive for.
Though often overlooked, sufficient and consistent sleep is central to good health, directly affecting our well-being and even professional success. Insufficient sleep has been associated with several chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes and depression, and it is also to blame for a number of car crashes and machinery related accidents each year. From doctors on call in hospitals and shift workers to disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea and sleep phase disorder, sleep has been an issue science has been attempting to break down.
Studies suggest that the number of hours a person should sleep per night gradually decreases with age. Research published in Sleep Health, the journal of the National Sleep Foundation found that newborns need a lot of sleep, from 14 to 17 hours throughout the day, while a child needs around 9 to 11 hours nightly and a teenager from 8 to 10. The optimal amount for an adult is 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye per night.
Nevertheless, healthy sleep is not so easy to achieve. Our bodies contain a body clock, called circadian rhythm, which is a natural mechanism that regulates sleep and wakefulness through changes in body temperature and hormone levels, associated with exposure to daylight, meal times and physical activity. The circadian rhythm tells the body to wake up when perceiving daylight, to feel hungry at regular times, and to produce sleep-inducing hormones at nighttime. Apart from conditions that alter this rhythm, such as jet lag or sleep phase disorder, this internal clock is fairly regular. Still, not enough sleep or too much inconsistency in the number of hours a person sleeps daily can disrupt this rhythm, making it hard to fall asleep or wake up when needed, resulting in poor sleep and drowsiness throughout the day. Maintaining this body clock regulated and getting sufficient sleep every night has been found to be central to overall health.
However, the majority of people do not sleep as much as they should. Research conducted in North America has shown that at least 40% of the population gets less than 7 hours of sleep regularly, particularly in the 18 to 29 age group. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the main causes for insufficient sleep are extended working hours, round-the-clock access to technology and sleep related disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Moreover, nearly 10% of the U.S. population experience chronic insomnia, which can reduce daytime cognitive function and the ability to maintain concentration. But what are the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation?
Drowsiness caused by insufficient sleep can have a definite impact on work performance and professional success, as reported by the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School: “the short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep to work are quickly washed away by the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on your mood, ability to focus, and access to higher-level brain functions for days to come. The negative effects of sleep deprivation are so great that people who are drunk outperform those lacking sleep”. Drowsiness throughout the day may also endanger drivers, with diminished attention and slower reflexes due to sleep deprivation being responsible for nearly 100.000 police-reported crashes every year. According to psychiatrist William C. Dement, founder of the Stanford University Sleep Clinic, even short-term sleep deprivation can lead to effects such as worsened vision and trouble remembering, while long-term effects can include obesity, insulin resistance and heart-disease. Also, a link has been found between insufficient sleep and disruptions in the immune system and even psychiatric disturbances.
On the other hand, it is possible to recover from sleep deprivation. It will take more than sleeping in on a Sunday morning, but according to Lawrence J. Epstein, medical director of the Harvard-affiliated Sleep Health Centers, adding an hour or two of extra sleep continuously until it becomes the natural sleep pattern should “repay” something called sleep debt, which is the difference between the amount of sleep you should get and how much you are actually sleeping. Hence, some good news for those dealing with sleep deprivation: putting in the effort to sleep a few more hours each night can erase the damage done by shunning sleep and bring about a great boost to your health.
How much sleep do we actually need? It seems like a simple question, but in fact sleep (and lack of) plays a key role in our health, well- being, and even professional success. Recently, an increasing number of studies have been conducted on the effect of good and bad sleeping habits on the body and mind. According to Dr. William Dement, lead researcher in sleep medicine, “you’re not healthy unless your sleep is healthy”.
Reaching financial stability is a goal many people share believing that money is central to quality of life, but does it really bring happiness? There are endless books, blogs, articles and seminars on how to achieve the dream job, how to multiply savings through smart investments, which careers have the biggest pay, and basically how to make more money. One of the greatest plays in American theater, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, portrays a man’s quest for professional success, believing the money and status it would bring was the solution to the family’s problems. Despite being a work of fiction, the play mirrors a misguided pursuit of happiness through financial prosperity. Even though a high paying professional position and possessions are valid aspirations, studies suggest that financial success is not so closely related to a general sense of happiness.
A study conducted by Kostadin Kushlev and Elizabeth W. Dunn from the University of British Columbia and Richard E. Lucas from Michigan State University found that an increase in income is not necessarily responsible for an increment in daily happiness, but that it did diminish sadness. This result suggests that money can ease unhappiness by providing certain human necessities such as shelter, food and healthcare, for example, while also allowing activities that boost satisfaction, as entertainment and travelling.
Still, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a survey from the 1970s by Philip Brikman, Dan Coates and Ronnie Janoff-Bulman found while conducting a study with lottery winners that their level of reported happiness was not much different from that of non-lottery winners. This research also states that the winners even took less satisfaction in everyday events than the non-winners, contradicting what popular belief might expect. Since experiencing something as thrilling as winning the lottery, common pleasures were dimmed by the extraordinary circumstances. Surprisingly, owning an exorbitant amount of money actually made people enjoy their lives less.
On the other hand, happiness might be something not completely under our control. A study by Sonja Lyubomirsky and David Schkade from the University of California and Kennon M. Sheldon from the University of Missouri suggested a happiness set point, which each person inherits genetically and that determines a somewhat independent and stable level of happiness throughout their lives, which is influenced to an extent by the surrounding circumstances and by the activities practiced by the individual relevant to well-being and happiness.
Therefore, it is possible to infer that happiness is not necessarily a direct consequence of financial success, although stability and comfort play an important part in a person’s general well-being.