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Tender Buttons Paperback – July 10, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0486298979 ISBN-10: 0486298973

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (July 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486298973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486298979
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Self-published in 1914, this is one of the volumes that solidified Stein's reputation. Dividing the book into three sectionsAObjects, Food, and RoomsAStein attempts to form images using repetition and disjointed words. As the average person will find that it makes no sense at all, Stein's exercise in automatic writing remains in the realm of the literati.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) was an American-Jewish writer, poet and art collector who spent most of her life in France. While living in Paris, Gertrude began writing for publication. Her earliest writings were mainly retellings of her college experiences. Her first critically acclaimed publication was Three Lives. Sherwood Anderson in his public introduction to Stein's 1922 publication of Geography and Plays wrote: “For me the work of Gertrude Stein consists in a rebuilding, an entirely new recasting of life, in the city of words. Here is one artist who has been able to accept ridicule, who has even forgone the privilege of writing the great American novel, uplifting our English speaking stage, and wearing the bays of the great poets to go live among the little housekeeping words, the swaggering bullying street-corner words, the honest working, money saving words and all the other forgotten and neglected citizens of the sacred and half forgotten city. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I was pleased with the timely manner in which I received this book.
Ashley
The first section of the book I found the most interesting with the word play, but an entire book of word play and little narrative arc could not hold my attention.
J. A Carty
Personally I see a lot in that line, though, admittedly, not placed in the context of the rest of the sentence it resides within.
Louis Mauriello

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Stein has taken on a great challenge to break conventional ways of looking at words. Her desire to raise herself out of the "box" of literary tradition and create her own space and shape has resulted this fine book. Many hours can be spent on this thin volume, but yet it wouldn't be enough time to discover all the devises she employs. I became excited not because of her interesting juxtaposing of unrelated, and very strange yet unique, images, but also her ability to keep moving the words. For example, in the section titled Objects, Ms Stein has several poems that use repetition as a devise to create rhythm. In one poem, "A Seltzer Bottle" the repetition of "s" sounds shake up the poem. Certainly she asks us to question what a word means and how meaning can be easily manipulated, but she also is a master of "sound over sense." In "A Red Hat" she connects independent clauses, sentences, or lines by repeating a word from the previous independent clause, sentence, or line. "A dark grey, a very dark grey, a quite dark grey is monstrous ordi-/ narily, it is so monstrous because there is no red in it. If red is in/ everything it is not necessary. Is that not an argument for any use of/ it and even so is there any place that is better, is there any place that/ has so much stretched out." "Grey" melts into "monstrous", "monstrous" into "red", and "red" into "is".
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By michael helsem on October 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
The playfulness & intellectual rigor of the best of the
Modernist movement unite in this small book of exquisite
prose poems that may be read, on one level at least, as
an extended allegory of eroticism (e.g. "tender buttons"
are nipples); & on another, as a manifesto of what was
to become L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry. But you don't really need
to be a scholar to appreciate the freshness & lovely
rhythms of the poems. They are like nothing else that
existed at the the time they were written (not even the
great Victorian "nonsense" poets dared to be this non-referential)
& though they have cast a long shadow across late 20c. PoMo,
there really has been nothing quite like them since.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
I don't have as much patience as some with Stein's other work, but "Tender Buttons" is sublime. It leads the mind down paths it would never otherwise follow. I'm basically a philistine, and a populist, but this book never loses its splendour. Here (and here only, for me) Gertrude Stein had perfect pitch.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Utter frustration at the first glance -- however, once you come to understand her methods and the purpose behind these poetic morsels, they will consume you. Stein's spare style inspired a generation of writers, and this is one of her most personal attempts at minimalist writing. It conflates the visual medium of writing with rhythmic and rhyming aural sensations. Give it time. Pick it up. Put it down. Pick it up again. You'll be glad that you did.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on June 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Tender Buttons," by Gertrude Stein, is a short work (52 plus ix pages in the Dover edition) which one could classify as a collection of prose poems. The Dover edition includes a short introduction; it notes that the book was initially published in 1914.
"Tender Buttons" is divided into three sections: "OBJECTS," "FOOD," and "ROOMS." The first two sections are further subdivided into short entries: "A RED STAMP," "A BOX," "A PLATE," etc. Thus it seems like Stein is presenting the poetic version of a series of still lifes.
Stein often uses repetition, alliteration, and other rhythmic techniques. She totally liberates her compositions from standard syntax and punctuation. Words are strung together in odd combinations. Ultimately she creates a playful, even musical dance of words across the pages.
But I must admit I found this dance largely incoherent. It often reads like some pidgin variant of English, or like the writings of someone who has suffered a neurological trauma to the language center of her brain. I could also compare it to some sort of secret code language of an occult society.
Examples of the style in this book: "Apple plum, carpet steak, seed clam, colored wine, calm seen, cold cream, best shake, potato, potato and no no gold work with pet, a green seen is called bake and change sweet is bready, a little piece a little piece please" (from "APPLE"); "A curving example makes righteous finger-nails" (from "ROOMS").
The book as a whole has an experimental feel, and while I'm not sure how successful the experiment is, "Tender Buttons" is nonetheless quite a remarkable work. At times it's even fun. My suggestion: read sections of the book aloud to someone who does not speak or understand English, and ask them how the pure musicality of the language strikes them.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Melody on August 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Looking for plot, conflict and character developement? Then move on, this is Gertrude's free-flowing automatic writing.

Ms. Stein is crucial reading to round out one's literary experiance and from that vantage point stars are irrelavant; good, bad or indifferent it is literary history. Did I finish it though? No, I did not.
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