Melanctha Essay

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At the time this book was published, Ruddick was teaching in the English Department at the University of Chicago. In the following excerpt, she presents her view of Stein's reacting to the ideas of her mentor, William James, in "Melanctha," focusing on Melanctha and Jeff as two sides of Stein's own personality.

Gertrude Stein thought of herself as having spent her life escaping from the nineteenth century into which she had been born. This chapter is about the ambivalent beginnings of that escape. With the story "Melanctha," Stein made her first leap into modernist modes of representation; she herself described [in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas] the story (immodestly but plausibly) as "the first definite step away from the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century in literature." Yet the text looks backward at the same time.

"Melanctha" carries on a private conversation with William James, Stein's...

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This section contains 3,451 words
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Melanctha from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.