THE GOOD ANNA; MELANCTHA; THE GENTLE LENA; THINGS AS THEY ARE(Q.E.D.)
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First published in 1909, Three Lives marks the beginning of an era of bold experimentation with literary form and language that has continued throughout our century. In these three stories, Gertrude Stein put into practice certain theories about prose composition that paralleled the ideas expressed in the art of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters. Her characters strike the reader as living in a world determined by an aesthetic rather than a social order. The nonlinear narrative structure of 'The Good Anna', for example, was inspired by the works of Cézanne. Stein's friendship with Picasso encouraged her free expression of syntactical repetition to establish the mood and open sexuality of 'Melanctha'. And the influence of Matisse can be seen in 'The Gentle Lena', a bold psychological portrait of a woman, with a corresponding de-emphasis on plot and setting. Also included in this edition is Q.E.D. A frankly autobiographical story, conventional in form, it is in many ways an early version of 'Melanctha', and its inclusion here shows where Stein started and suggests how far she came on her own.