Three Lives pp 260-307 | Cite as

Questions of Otherness: Sexuality (“Inversion”), Race, Gender

  • Gertrude Stein
Part of the Bedford Cultural Editions book series (BCE)


Stein writes in her journal about being very afraid when, as a student at Radcliffe, she read Oscar Wilde’s poignant “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” (1898); (see pp. 263–71). The risks of being different were no longer abstract. It was dangerous enough to be a woman, a student at the Harvard Annex, as Radcliffe College was originally known, but to have that danger compounded by racial or religious difference was certain hardship, as black or Jewish students early recognized. (Both Leo and Gertrude were conscious of being among the few Jewish students in Cambridge.) But perhaps the most dangerous difference at the turn of the century was sexual. Here the aura of misinformation about sexual preference, or about any sexuality at all, meant that life could be ruined by the private being made public.


Sexual Object Female Brain Sexual Aberration Jewish Student Sexual Impulse 
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© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gertrude Stein

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