Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Qty:1
  • List Price: $13.00
  • Save: $2.60 (20%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Usually ships within 2 to 4 weeks.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Two Lives: Gertrude and A... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by eroush8
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: UsedVeryGood; This is a used book with no highlights or markings. I want to thank you for looking at my item.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice Paperback – September 16, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$10.40
$4.99 $0.01

Up to 50% off select Non-Fiction books
Featured titles are up to 50% off for a limited time. See all titles
$10.40 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Usually ships within 2 to 4 weeks. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice
  • +
  • The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
  • +
  • The Journalist and the Murderer
Total price: $32.54
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this startling study of Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, acclaimed journalist Malcolm (The Journalist and the Murderer) puts their relationship in a new light, demonstrating that lives and biographies are not always self-evident. Through careful readings of Stein's writing, Malcolm makes the case, quoting English professor Ulla Dydo, that Stein's lifting words from the lockstep of standard usage was indeed, the work of a (granted, self-described) genius. Malcolm gets into more controversial territory in exploring Stein and Toklas's stormy and complicated relationship—fraught with sadomasochistic emotional undercurrents—and their energetic sex life. But her real discovery is that Stein and Toklas—two elderly Jewish women—survived the German occupation of France because of their close friendship with the wealthy, anti-Semitic Frenchman Bernard Faÿ, a collaborator responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Freemasons. Faÿ continually intervened with the authorities on the pair's behalf. This friendship was so deep that after the war Toklas helped the imprisoned Faÿ escape. Malcolm's prose is a joy to read, and her passion for Stein's writing and life is evident. This is a vital addition to Stein criticism as well as an important work that critiques the political responsibility of the artist (even a genius) to the larger world. Photos. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Janet Malcolm, a writer for The New Yorker and an accomplished biographer, recognizes the limitations inherent in her chosen medium: "The instability of human knowledge is one of our few certainties. Almost everything we know we know incompletely at best." Malcolm consulted many scholars, literary critics, and journalists while researching this book, and they surface as characters. The very pursuit of information becomes a plotline in itselfâ€"to mixed reactions. Malcolm examines the sadomasochistic tenor of Stein’s and Toklas’s relationship, their dealings with the Nazis, and Stein’s unreadable, experimental writing with honesty and clarity. Academic but charming, Two Lives isn’t so much the biography of individuals as it is the story of a love affair and the extraordinary, sometimes incomprehensible, works it produced.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300143109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300143102
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Then don't read Janet Malcolm. Malcolm is not the kind of biographer who delivers more than you ever wanted to know about a subject. But if you want to know how biographers do their sleuth work, how one wrong date can determine whether we think Stein horrid or not, and how the personalities of Stein scholars have shaped what we do and don't know about this writer, then read Malcolm. Along the way, you will be treated to delectable prose and delicious literary gossip. And you will get to know the personalities of Stein and Toklas in all their lively and quirky splendor.
Comment 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Concisely told biographical work of Stein and Toklas. If you are looking for a definitive biography, this is not the book for you. If you want to understand the essence of their relationship and enjoy good writing and insightful phrasing, pick this up.
Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I've been waiting and waiting for this book since I read Malcolm's article "Gertrude Stein's War" in a June 2003 issue of "The New Yorker." The article, which took up a large part of the issue, was fascinating and prompted me to look up more on Stein. I bought "The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook" and tried the recipe for mousse. (It was a disaster: a misreading of fractions caused this former English major to add too much baker's chocolate and then a distracted moment had me pick up the electric beaters while they were going and mousse spattered all over the kitchen walls.)

Over the next few years, Malcolm wrote a few more article for "The New Yorker," whetting my appetite even more, so it was with great joy when I saw this book was finally ready.

The wall of reality was hard.

True, I have nobody to blame but myself for my expectations but this book is little more than the three "New Yorker" articles put together. There isn't much here that I hadn't read before. Once I swallowed my disappointment, I'm happy to have the book. It's easier than trying to dredge up the old magazine articles again; I've no idea where I even put them.

The book is well written and readable, possibly one of the most accessible biographies ever written about Stein and Toklas in Malcolm's friendly prose. Malcolm's biography also reveals some very unsavory things about Stein that may change one's perception of her. Is Stein a feminist, lesbian hero or a right-wing figure who just falls short of being a collaborationist? Malcolm gives us the facts and we have to be the ones who make of them what we will. After I read the book, I only had one real question, one that cannot be answered by Malcolm: what exactly DID Hemingway hear Toklas screaming at Stein? We may never know.
Comment 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I was younger there were several long gone events that I regretted missing, the long lunches at the Algonquin Hotel with Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker, the parties on Long Island with J. Gatsby looking for Daisy, bumming around Europe with Hemingway, and the Paris soirees with Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas. (And if someone had told me about Max's Kansas City in New York I would have run away from home to get there). The best book that I ever read on Gertrude and Alice was James Mellow's Charmed Circle, which is a standard conventional life of Stein, Toklas and their circle expatriates which included Henri Rousseau, Matisse, Picasso, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald and went on for nearly 40 years in all manner of conditions. There was also Stein's charming book, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, a memoir as imagined by Stein of her long time partner and lover and Hemingway's Movable Feast.

Janet Malcolm's book does not attempt to go over this well-trod ground. There are no stories about the banquet for Rousseau in which all the leading lights of modernism were doing homage to the grand old man of primitive art, no tales of how Picasso's portrait would one day look like Stein, the words "lost generation" are never uttered. There is no meditation on Alice's unconventional brownies recipe. Instead, Malcolm is attempting to do something different.

This is mainly a biography of the reputations of Stein and Toklas and how scholarship and memoir has shifted overtime.
Read more ›
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gertrude Stein, commenting on her wondrous line, "A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" said this --

"I know that in daily life we don't go around saying 'is a . . . is a . . . is a . . .' Yes, I'm no fool; but I think that in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years."

No fool, indeed. To have made a lasting contribution to literature with one line? That takes a fool's fool, or rather, the kind of fool Shakespeare used in his plays. The man who could talk to the moon and tease the king at the same time.

Gertrude Stein had the fool's charm to speak as she pleased and to throw her literary comments every which way, but it almost seemed she didn't care to be read. Maybe heard. But not necessarily read.

Very few people I know have read Stein's big book The Making of Americans.

The biographer of this many-faceted book, Janet Malcolm, says she couldn't read The Making of Americans until she solved the problem of the book's weight and bulk by cutting it up with a kitchen knife into six readable, and also portable, sections. In this way she made a discovery -- "It's a book that is actually a number of books."

She also says: "If you listen to the book's music, you will catch the low hum of melancholy. If you regard it as an exercise in whistling in the dark, you will understand its brilliance."

Malcolm is right. The music of a book is often the point of the book, and should be read as if one were listening rather than reading.

But the great brilliance of Malcolm is that she writes sympathetically about the genius, Stein, and her cohort, lover, best friend, mate and savior, Alice B. Toklas. Their lives are intricately interesting, more so than Stein's prosody perhaps, but then, as Gertrude might've said: You get what you get and that's what you got.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews