Title: TWO LIVES: GERTRUDE AND ALICE - Rare ...
Publisher: New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author
Edition: 1st Edition.
1st Printing. Signed. 230 pages. Published in 2007. The author's book-length account on subject. One of Janet Malcolm's finest achievements. The First Hardcover Edition. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only. The First Edition is now scarce. Presents Janet Malcolm's "Two Lives: Gertrude And Alice". Her masterly account on the iconic "same-sex" couple of the 20th century: The ground-breaking experimentalist writer Gertrude Stein and her lifelong companion, Alice B. Toklas. "How had the pair of elderly Jewish lesbians survived the Nazis? , Janet Malcolm asks at the beginning of this extraordinary work of literary biography. As Malcolm pursues the truth of the couple's charmed life in a village in Vichy France, her subject becomes the larger question of biographical truth" (Publisher's blurb). "Not since Virginia Woolf has anyone thought so trenchantly about the strange art of biography" (Christopher Benfey). It is hard to think of a more eccentric and curious couple than Gertrude and Alice. They have no counterparts today. Writing in our politically correct LGBTQ Age, Malcolm does not condescend to them. But she does not give them a free pass either in her balanced and illuminating account. The amazing (and almost incomprehensible) thing about even the most "progressive" visionary-artists and writers is that they can be as obtuse, naive, and disingenuous about politics as the most ordinary person. No amount of progress in the political realm necessarily affects or influences them favorably, and that is true of The Steins of yore as it is of such creative geniuses today as Christian Boltanski and Ragnar Kjartansson. "The instability of human knowledge is one of our few certainties" (Janet Malcolm). An absolute "must-have" title for Janet Malcolm collectors. This copy is very prominently, neatly, and beautifully signed in black ink-pen on the title page by Janet Malcolm. It is signed directly on the page itself, not on a tipped-in page. This title is a contemporary classic. This is one of very few such signed copies of the First Hardcover Edition/First Printing still available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a pristine beauty. Please note: Most copies available online are remainder-marked or have serious flaws. Signed copies by Janet Malcolm are rare. Despite the enormous publicity she has generated over the years (she was sued for libel by one of her subjects and vilified by fellow journalists) or perhaps because of it, Malcolm has remained an extreme introvert who has done no more than a few public signings in her career. A rare signed copy thus. One of the most brilliant American writers of our time. A fine copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER JANET MALCOLM TITLES IN OUR CATALOG) ISBN 0300125518. Bookseller Inventory # 18081
"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 Stein?s needs throughout their forty-year expatriate “marriage.? As Malcolm pursues the truth of the couple?s 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 [Stein?s] 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
From the Author:
Q: How do you choose literary subjects? For instance, how did you get from Chekhov to Stein?
A: I stumble on most of my subjects. In the case of Stein, The New Yorker asked me to contribute to an issue on food, and I decided to write about The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book. In the course of rereading Toklas's chapter on her cooking in occupied France, I became curious about Stein and Toklas's wartime history. I wondered how they survived the Nazi occupation.
Q: How did you determine the circumstances of their survival?
A: I learned of a man named Bernard Faÿ, who was an influential figure in the Vichy regime, and who protected Stein and Toklas. I was alerted to his existence by the three Stein scholars--Ulla Dydo, Edward Burns, and Bill Rice--who function in the book as a kind of Greek Chorus.
Q: Did you enjoy your encounter with the Stein scholars as much as it seems?
A: I did indeed. My encounter with them was one of unmitigated pleasure. Their splendid generosity and beauty of character was without parallel. I have written about the problem of the journalist/subject encounter, but what I wrote doesn't have bearing on this encounter. Q: How problematic was it to parse Stein's famously difficult The Making of Americans?
A: As I wrote, I had to take a knife and hack the 950-page book into six sections in order to read it. Reading it was both an ordeal and one of the most interesting literary experiences of my life. There is nothing like it in literature. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but for anyone who is interested in Stein, it is a necessary work.
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