Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice by Janet Malcolm - review by Brenda Maddox

Brenda Maddox

On the Stein Trail

Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice


Yale University Press 229pp £16.99

Good question: how did two Jewish lesbians survive in Nazi-occupied France? Janet Malcolm addresses the mystery. Gertrude Stein and her lover, Alice B Toklas, both from Jewish-American business families, refused all suggestions that they return to the United States or steal quietly into neutral Switzerland. Instead they stayed put, mainly at Bilignin, their village in eastern France, and watched others being rounded up and sent to German camps.

Who would believe that a large part of the answer was lying in the bowels of the Beinecke, Yale University's splendid research library? Janet Malcolm of the New Yorker, prodigiously aided by Stein scholars who have searched manuscripts, unpublished dissertations and unsuspected correspondence, has found that the Stein–Toklas protector was

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