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Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice

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Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"How had the pair of elderly Jewish lesbians survived the Nazis?” Janet Malcolm asks at the beginning of this extraordinary work of literary biography and investigative journalism. The pair, of course, is Gertrude Stein, the modernist master “whose charm was as conspicuous as her fatness” and “thin, plain, tense, sour” Alice B. Toklas, the “worker bee” who ministered to Steins needs throughout their forty-year expatriate “marriage.” As Malcolm pursues the truth of the couples charmed life in a village in Vichy France, her subject becomes the larger question of biographical truth. “The instability of human knowledge is one of our few certainties,” she writes. 

The portrait of the legendary couple that emerges from this work is unexpectedly charged. The two world wars Stein and Toklas  lived through together are paralleled by the private war that went on between them. This war, as Malcolm learned, sometimes flared into bitter combat.

Two Lives is also a work of literary criticism. “Even the most hermetic of [Steins] writings are works of submerged autobiography,” Malcolm writes. “The key of  'I' will not unlock the door to their meaning—you need a crowbar for that—but will sometimes admit you to a kind of anteroom of suggestion.” Whether unpacking the accessible Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, in which Stein “solves the koan of autobiography,” or wrestling with The Making of Americans, a masterwork of “magisterial disorder,” Malcolm is stunningly perceptive.

Praise for the Author -

“[Janet Malcolm] is among the most intellectually provocative of authors . . .able to turn epiphanies of perception into explosions of insight.”—David Lehman, Boston Globe

“Not since Virginia Woolf has anyone thought so trenchantly about the strange art of biography.”—Christopher Benfey

 

About the Author

Janet Malcolm is the author of The Journalist and the Murderer, The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, and Reading Chekhov, among other books. She writes for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books and lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780300143102
Author:
Malcolm, Janet
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Specific Groups - Lesbians
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
20080931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
12 b/w illus.
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
7.75 x 5.25 in 0.65 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Drafting
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Drawing and Design
Biography » Literary
Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Military » General History
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

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Product details 240 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300143102 Reviews:
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