Years ago, in the basement of Yale University's rare-book library, I stumbled upon two Louis XV armchairs that once belonged to Gertrude Stein. They were upholstered in needlepoint by Alice B. Toklas according to Picasso's designs. Those chairs long haunted me. They evoked a knowledge remote from the arid deserts of Kant and Hegel to which my studies had confined me—a distinctly feminine savoir faire, a domestic sublime, redolent of the body and warm with conviviality. High culture in an armchair! Needlepoint and Picasso! Just sitting around, they seemed to suggest, in the right company, might be... More >>>