Tender Buttons is the best known of Gertrude Stein’s “hermetic” works. It is a small book separated into three sections – Food, Objects and Rooms each containing prose under subtitles. (Kellner, 1988, p. 61-62). Its publication in 1914 caused a great dispute between Mabel Dodge Luhan and Gertrude, because Mabel had been working to have it published by another publisher. (M
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Hope in gates, hope in spoons, hope in doors, hope in tables, no hope in daintiness and determination. Hope in dates.
Okay, besides the semaphored helplessness of a giant ‘WTF’, what would be the correct response to these lines, and to Tender Buttons as a whole? Don’t look at me. I have no idea what any of this means, or whether it means anything at all. Maybe this prose poem is just a gourmet word salad, maybe it’s just a series of non-sequiturs to which I’ve foolishly assented. I don’t know. I