The literary theories of American expatriate Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) strongly influenced a generation of young American writers (notably Hemingway), and her ideas about writing still provoke and stimulate. Although much of her own work embodies innovative experimentation with language and sound, the present volume is fairly conventional in style and quite accessible. Regarded by some critics as a minor masterpiece, Three Lives was Stein's first published book. In it she tells the stories of three working class women — Anna, a conscientious but rigid serving woman; Melanctha, a worldly-wise and sensitive black girl; and Lena, a gentle but feeble-minded maid. Although these are relatively ordinary women, in Stein's hands their lives and minds take on extraordinary interest. Told in clear, carefully crafted prose, these storeis are not only memorable works in themselves but an excellent entree to Stein's later work.