Kate Chopin was one of the most individual and adventurous of nineteenth-century American writers, whose fiction explored new and often startling territory. When her most famous story, The Awakening, was first published in 1899, it stunned readers with its frank portrayal of the inner word of Edna Pontellier, and its daring criticisms of the limits of marriage and motherhood. The subtle beauty of her writing was contrasted with her unwomanly and sordid subject-matter: Edna's rejection of her domestic role, and her passionate quest for spiritual, sexual, and artistic freedom. From her first stories, Chopin was interested in independent characters who challenged convention. This selection, freshly edited from the first printing of each text, enables readers to follow her unfolding career as she experimented with a broad range of writing, from tales for children to decadent fin-de siecle sketches. The Awakening is set alongside thirty-two short stories, illustrating the spectrum of the fiction from her first published stories to her 1898 secret masterpiece, "The Storm."
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About the Author
Kate Chopin (1850–1904) is an American writer known for her stories about bold women forging paths contrary to social expectation. She published almost 100 short stories as well as the novel The Awakening , which was widely condemned upon publication but is today regarded to be one of her greatest achievements.
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Table of Contents
- The Awakening
- Beyond the Bayou
- Ma’ame Pelagie
- Desiree’s Baby
- A Respectable Woman
- The Kiss
- A Pair of Silk Stocks
- The Locket
- A Reflection
“She wanted something to happen - something, anything: she did not know what.”
― Kate Chopin (quote from The Awakening
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I always knew that this book is considered a feminist classic. What I did not know, however, is that Chopin writes with such flair, genuine emotion, and amazing local color. Even her earlier, less polished short stories shine with an amazing sincerity and clarity of energy. She was ahead of her time and continues to be relevant, and it's a shame that she wasn't able to become properly renown in her lifetime.
Substance: The short stories are entertaining, in the 19th century style, with interesting views of the Louisiana Creole milieu. The sentiments exhibited are conventional romances, although with wit and some insight.The novel "The Awakening" might better be termed "The Abandonment." I suggest that it was considered unacceptable as much for for its denigration of the roles of wife and mother, as for the restrained sensuality and "coded" adultery, although I'm sure Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn would have disapproved of the book. Style: Chopin writes smoothly and easily, with succulent descriptive passages. The use of dialect is not overly intrusive (compare "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and a host of grade-B writings from the period up through the 1950s).SPOILER ALERTThe self-indulgent protagonist seems never to have outgrown her youthful fantasies, and certainly made no effort to extend herself to understand her husband or care for her children (which she admitted).There have always been women with no desire to be encumbered by a family (her family removed her from a convent at some age, if I remember rightly). To accept the task and then shirk it, as Edna did, does not become justified by the claim that she didn't understand herself until later. Depriving her children of their mother is not a noble act, although they probably won't ever miss her, since she interacted with them as little as possible. (At least she didn't kill herself in front of them, compare "The Horse Whisperer".)