The Awakening, and Selected Stories

Front Cover
Penguin Books, 1984 - Fiction - 286 pages
The Awakening shocked turn-of-the-century readers and reviewers with its treatment of sex and suicide. In a departure from literary convention, Kate Chopin failed to condemn her heroine's desire for an affair with the son of a Louisiana resort owner, whom she meets on vacation. The power of sensuality, the delusion of ecstatic love, and the solitude that accompanies the trappings of middle- and upper-class convention are the themes of this now-classic novel. The book was influenced by French writers ranging from Flaubert to Maupassant, and can be seen as a precursor of the impressionistic, mood-driven novels of Virginia Woolf and Djuna Barnes. Variously called "vulgar, " "unhealthily introspective, " and "morbid, " the book was neglected for several decades, not least because it was written by a "regional" woman writer. This edition also includes selected stories from Kate Chopin's Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie, and an introduction and notes by Nina Baym.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - weird_O - LibraryThing

I want to report that I finished [The Awakening] by [[Kate Chopin]]. Published in 1899, the novel roused quite a bit of shock, horror, righteous scolding, and that whole brouhaha. The story of a young ... Read full review

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User Review  - Booktrovert - LibraryThing

this was great!! i only gave it a 4/5 though because i felt abruptly jarred out of the awakening and into the other stories int he collection. it was only on going back and re-reading the ending of ... Read full review

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About the author (1984)

Kate Chopin was born Katherine O'Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri, on February 8, 1851. Although she was brought up in a wealthy and socially elite Catholic family, Chopin's childhood was marred by tragedies. Her father was killed in a train accident when Chopin was just four years old, and in the following years she also lost her older brother, great-grandmother, and half-brother. In 1870, at the age of 19, she married Oscar Chopin, the son of a wealthy cotton-growing family in Louisiana. The couple had seven children together, five boys and two girls, before Oscar died of swamp fever in 1883. The following year, Chopin packed up her family and moved back to St. Louis to be with her mother, who died just a year later. To support herself and her family, Chopin started to write. Her first novel, At Fault, was published in 1890. Her most famous work, The Awakening, inspired by a real-life New Orleans woman who committed adultery, was published in 1899. The book explores the social and psychological consequences of a woman caught in an unhappy marriage in 19th century America, is now considered a classic of the feminist movement and caused such an uproar in the community that Chopin almost entirely gave up writing. Chopin did try her hand at a few short stories, most of which were not even published. Chopin died on August 22, 1904, of a brain hemorrhage, after collapsing at the World's Fair just two days before.

A poet, feminist critic, and professor of English at the University of California at Davis, Gilbert received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1968. Her early work addressed canonical male figures, but in the 1970s she began to focus on women writers from a feminist perspective, teaming up with Susan Gubar in what has proven to be a very influential collaboration. In 1979 they published their first joint efforts, a collection of feminist essays on women poets, Shakespeare's Sisters, and The Madwoman in the Attic, an exploration of major nineteenth-century women writers, which has had a major role in defining feminist scholarship. This massive volume takes its title from Jane Eyre's "mad" and monstrous double, Bertha, hidden away in the attic by Jane's would-be lover, Rochester; Gilbert and Gubar see figures like Bertha as resisting patriarchy, subversive surrogates for the docile heroines who populate nineteenth-century fiction by women. Although Gilbert and Gubar's ideas have been very influential, many critics, particularly poststructuralists, have taken issue with them. For Gilbert and Gubar, a woman writer is by definition angry, and her text will express that anger, albeit in disguised or distorted form. Reading hinges on knowing the sex of the author, rather than on a careful analysis of the text itself and the multivalency of its language. Gilbert and Gubar's work is part of a debate about essentialist and antiessentialist feminist theories, which has addressed issues like "the signature" (the significance of knowledge about the author and authorial intentions) and gendered expression in general.

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