Three Lives Author:Gertrude Stein Three Lives was Gertrude Stein's first published book (1909), written not long after she settled in France. It is little masterpiece, to be compared with Flaubert's Trois Contes, from which it somewhat derives; and its style and method and method influenced a whole generation of American writers. Three Lives stands a... more »s a massive doorpost in the entrance to the latest and best in American literature of its time.
Three Lives tells the story of three plain and humble women -- The Good Anna and The Gentle Lena, both household servants, and Melanctha, a young colored girl involved in an unhappy love affair. Simple material, but written with a directness that gives it immense force. In fact, that simplicity and directness, both in style and technique, are what make the book. At the turn of the century conventional literary style had reached an all-time semantic low; it was language so ridden with stereotyped phrases and cadences that it could hardly convey any fresh meanings whatever.
Three Lives was the revolutionary explosion that started the reverse trend which produced the lean, hard styles of Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Williams and their countless followers. Few books have done more valuable service.
This New Classics edition, published by New Directions (The Modern Library), is a 1933 reprint with an introduction by Carl van Vechten.« less