New Essays on The Awakening

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Wendy Martin
Cambridge University Press, Jul 29, 1988 - Literary Criticism - 152 pages
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"The American Novel" series provides students of American literature with introductory critical guides to the great works of American fiction. Each volume begins with a substantial introduction by a distinguished authority on the text, giving details of the novel's composition, publication history, and contemporary reception, as well as a survey of the major critical trends and readings from first publication to the present. This overview is followed by a group of new essays, each commissioned from a leading scholar in the field, which together constitute a forum of interpretive methods and prominent contemporary ideas on the text. There are also helpful guides to further reading. Specifically designed for undergraduates, the series will be a powerful resource for anyone engaged in the critical analysis of major American novels.

When "The Awakening" was first published in 1899 it was an extraordinarily controversial book. One of the first American novels to concern itself with themes of adultery and divorce, it was widely attacked as "vulgar" and "unhealthy." In her introduction to this collection, Wendy Martin discusses the historical background of the novel and analyzes the heroine's evolution from a role of traditional femininity to one of autonomous individualism. The essays the follow--by Elaine Showalter, Michael Gilmore, Andrew Delbanco, and Cristina Giorcelli--explore other central themes of the novel, as well as locating Chopin in the tradition of American women novelists and discussing her status as a pre-modernist writer.

 

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Contents

Tradition and the Female Talent The Awakening as a Solitary Book
33
Revolt Against Nature The Problematic Modernism of The Awakening
59
The HalfLife of Edna Pontellier
89
Ednas Wisdom A Transitional and Numinous Merging
109
Notes on Contributors
149
Selected Bibliography
150
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Page 5 - She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.
Page 15 - The golden shimmer of Edna's satin gown spread in rich folds on either side of her. There was a soft fall of lace encircling her shoulders. It was the color of her skin, without the glow, the myriad living tints that one may sometimes discover in vibrant flesh.

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