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Melanctha Summary
Gertrude Stein

Everything you need to understand or teach Melanctha by Gertrude Stein.

  • Melanctha Summary & Study Guide

Melanctha Summary


Gertrude Stein's "Melanctha" has been a landmark of literary modernism since its first printing. The author broke radically new ground with both her subject matter and style. She focused on emotional process almost to the exclusion of action and other conventional plot structures, and she chose to people her story with black characters at a time when other white writers wouldn't do so and when few black writers had the opportunity to publish. Furthermore, Stein's central character—Melanctha—was sexually liberated and assertive at a time when Victorian values still dominated women's lives.

First published in 1909 as one of the three novellas that comprise Stein's Three Lives, "Melanctha" is an experimental story that chronicles the life of a highly intelligent, emotionally complex mulatto woman. The basis of Stein's story arises from Melanctha's emotional conflicts, for which the author never provides a direct cause: Melanctha wanders through life...

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Melanctha Study Guide

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