The Problem With Pleasure By Laura Frost

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In Laura Frost’s book, The Problem with Pleasure, she tackles the work of modernist Gertrude Stein. In the chapter labeled “Stein’s Tickle” Frost tries to help her readers understand and interpret Stein’s Tender Buttons, along with other works. She writes, “I want to suggest a new model for approaching Stein’s work that takes into account both the appeal and the difficulties of her texts: tickling (Frost 66).” Instead of focusing on Stein’s words and trying to explain what she means in her works, Frost clarifies what’s happening with Stein through the other side of a literary work, meaning the readers instead of the author. Frost does not fully explain Tender Buttons itself, but she tries to define Stein’s purpose for writing the way she does by analyzing the relationship Stein has with her readers. Using this tactic instead of just simply telling her audience what Stein means when she writes things such as, “A light white, a disgrace, an ink spot, a rosy charm (Stein 13),” is a way to help her readers understand where authors, such as Stein, are coming from. So in helping Stein’s frustrated readers understand her work, Frost does three main things: she shows the readers that they are not alone in their sea of frustration, she clarifies what Stein is doing when she uses certain words or repetitions, and she explains where the readers stand according to Stein. One way to appease someone in any kind of frustrating situation is to assure them that they are not alone, and

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