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Three Lives

Three Lives: Stories of the Good Anna, Melanctha, and the Gentle Lena

stein stories lena flaubert

a book of three stories by Gertrude Stein, published in 1909. Three Lives: Stories of the Good Anna, Melanctha, and the Gentle Lena, the full title, was Stein's first published work and one of her most successful. The stories are character studies of three women: Anna, a German servant, Melanchtha, an uneducated black girl, and Lena, a German maid, written in response to the differing influences of Gustave Flaubert and Paul Cézanne (her initial title was ‘Three Histories’, an echo of Flaubert's Trois Contes). ‘Melanctha’, in particular, is notable for its use of a variety of narrative perspectives and is evidence of Stein's interest in trying to bring the techniques of Cubist painting to fictional narrative. See The Making of a Modernist: Stein from ‘Three Lives’ to ‘Tender Buttons’ (1984), by Jayne L. Walker.

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