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Three Lives and Q.E.D. (Norton Critical…

Three Lives and Q.E.D. (Norton Critical Edition) (edition 2006)

by Gertrude Stein, Marianne DeKoven

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Title:Three Lives and Q.E.D. (Norton Critical Edition)
Authors:Gertrude Stein
Other authors:Marianne DeKoven
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2006), Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library, Contemporary American Literature
Tags:lesbian, American

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Three Lives and Q.E.D. (Norton Critical Edition) by Gertrude Stein

  1. 00
    Lifting Belly by Gertrude Stein (corinneblackmer)
    corinneblackmer: For those who read Q.E.D. and "Three Lives" (i.e., "Melanchta") for their outstanding depictions of earlier lesbian lives in America, "Lifting Belly," which Stein composed during WWII, is an erotic masterpiece. It is also a work of poetic power, joy, and effulgence.… (more)

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This Norton Critical edition does an excellent job historically situating these two brilliant instances of the earlier (lesbian) works of Gertrude Stein. Q.E.D. (quod erat demonstrandum--or what is to be demonstrated) is a highly readable, semi-autobiographical novella detailing Stein's reaction to her burgeoning lesbianism while she was a medical student at Johns Hopkins University. Stein falls in love with a woman named May Bookstaver, but their relationship is stymied by their differing moral codes, their backgrounds, and their reactions to Mabel Neathe, a competing suitor who attempts to win over May with expensive gifts and trips and who, like May, does not view her putative sexual orientation as something more than a "passing phase," to be put away after college by marriage and motherhood. Stein, for her part, resists May's sexual seductions because she regards sex without marriage (or monogamous commitment) as immoral, and contrary to the bourgeois moral principles with which she has been raised. Hence, both are frustrated and, finally, break off, with Stein, through her character Adele remarking that they are "mistimed." The story shows great success in handling the theme of triangulated love, and is a treasure for those wishing to gain insight into earlier twentieth century lesbian love, and its connections to women's newly won rights to attend college. "Three Lives" constitutes three portraits that were, as Stein attests, influenced by Cezanne and her growing friendship with Pablo Picasso. The most famous of these portraits is "Melanchta," which constitutes an original artistic rewriting of the material in the autobiographical novella, Q.E.D. Melanctha Herbert is a half white, half black, bisexual woman who sometimes wants to kill herself because she "feels blue." She has an unloving mother and an overbearing father, and as she grows into a young woman, rejected by her "vague" mother, she has adventures, and eventually meets Jane Harden, a hard drinking near white lesbian teacher who teaches Melanctha "what power is and what to do with it when she had it." Melanctha, once she learns the lessons of power, deserts Jane in her "need," and takes up with a young Negro doctor named Jeff Campbell. In their relationship many of the miscommunications and frustrations that had bedeviled the relationship between Stein and May Bookstaver are represented, and they eventually drift apart. Melanchta eventually winds up living with a "coarse" black woman named Rose Johnson, who, unlike Melanctha, has a very secure and unproblematic racial, sexual, and gendered identity and who is not always "wandering" and "getting into trouble." However, Melanctha dies of consumption after Rose ejects her from her house because she suspects Melanctha of flirting with her husband. This extraordinary story is written inn a pattern of repetition within variation that underscores the theme and meaning, and adds much to the meaning as to the humor. ( )
  corinneblackmer | Oct 9, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393979032, Paperback)

This Norton Critical Edition includes both Three Lives and Q.E.D., first published in 1909 and 1950, respectively.

Three Lives is comprised of the stories "The Good Anna," "Melanchtha," and "The Gentle Lena."  "Melanchtha" is an adaptation of Q.E.D., Stein’s first completed novel, which remained unpublished until four years after her death.

"Contexts" is divided into two sections—"Biography" and "Intellectual Backgrounds"—that highlight the inspirations for and evolutions of Three Lives and discuss the difficult reception Stein’s experimental writing met with in the publishing world.

"Criticism" collects 19 chronologically arranged essays on Stein’s life and work, from pieces written during the decades in which her work was regarded as important primarily for its influence on writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson to the more laudatory scholarship of recent years.  Feminism and form, queer studies, interrelations of race and sexuality, African American studies, and primitivism and eugenics are all represented.  Among the critical pieces are William Carlos Williams’s commentary on Stein’s complexity and originality, Richard Bridgman’s study of Stein’s work as a possible compensation and camouflage for her lesbianism, and Lisa Ruddick’s essay connecting feminist analysis to theories of consciousness.

A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:06 -0400)

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