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"Three Lives" by Gertrude Stein

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Published in 1909, Three Lives was Gertrude Stein's first published work. The book is made up of three stories: "The Good Anna", "Melanctha", and "The Gentle Lena". The three stories are independent of each other, but all are set in the fictional town of Bridgepoint.

Stein credits Cezanne's portrait of his mother, which hung opposite her writing table, with influencing her style of writing during the creation of this book.

"The portrait of Madame Cezanne is one of the monumental examples of the artist's method, each exacting, carefully negotiated plane--from the suave reds of the armchair and the gray blues of the sitter's jacket to the vaguely figured wallpaper of the background--having been structured into existence, seeming to fix the subject for all eternity. So it was with Gertrude's repetitive sentences, each one building up, phrase by phrase, the substance of her characters." (Mellow, 1974, p. 71).

Source: Mellow, James R. Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein & Company. New York, Washington: Praeger Publishers, 1974.


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