Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons (1911): Modernist Poetics or Sacred Discontent?”. The Nordic Association for English Studies 2004 (NAES)

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaper/skriftligt oplægForskning


Gertrude Stein’s book of prose poems Tender Buttons has been characterized as a modernist literary work by most of its critics. As a distinctive feature of its modernist poetics critics in particular emphasize Stein’s denial of representation through verbal abstraction and autotelism. This paper, however, intends to read Tender Buttons somewhat differently by suggesting that the poems may be viewed as an example of a displaced Rabbinic hermeneutics in the sense given the term by Susan Handelman. Inasmuch as Stein refuses to name the many objects properly that the titles of the poems introduce and instead – to employ her own term – “abuses” their names by way of wordplay, punning, syntactical ambiguity, and semantic disruption, she impersonates a secular Reb Stein, who stays faithful to the Scripture by sacred contempt of representation and obedience to (the play of) the letter. Perhaps this is the real reason why she has so easily and so often been mistaken for a modernist poet par exellence.
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - 2004
BegivenhedNinth Conference for English Studies - University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Danmark
Varighed: 24 maj 200427 maj 2004
Konferencens nummer: 9


KonferenceNinth Conference for English Studies
LokationUniversity of Aarhus