The Awakening and Selected StoriesBook - 2003
When 'The Awakening' was first published in 1899, charges of sordidness and immorality seemed to consign it into obscurity and irreparably damage its author's reputation. But a century after her death, it is widely regarded as Kate Chopin's great achievement. Through careful, subtle changes of style, Chopin shows the transformation of Edna Pontellier, a young wife and mother, who - with tragic consequences - refuses to be caged by married and domestic life, and claims for herself moral and erotic freedom.
In her introduction, Sandra M. Gilbert considers the issues explored in the novel and the stories collected here (including 'Emancipation', 'At the 'cadian Ball', and 'Desiree's baby') from their growth out of the feminist literary tradition of the nineteenth century, to their place among other concerns of fin de si cle writers in America and Europe, to their impact on contemporary feminist writing.
Katherine O'Flaherty (1850-1904), known by her married name Kate Chopin, was an American author of short stories and novels. Her works appeared in literary magazines and popular American periodicals of the day, including Vogue and The Atlantic . In 1899, her second novel, The Awakening , was published to much outrage and harsh criticism based upon moral, rather than literary, standards.
If you enjoyed The Awakening and Selected Stories , you might enjoy Jean Rhys's Good Morning Midnight , also available in Penguin Classics.
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From Library Staff
SeattleNonficLibrarians May 27, 2018
Another book that challenged social norms and shocked late 19th century sensibilities upon its publication, Chopin's novel is a bold, frank exploration of a woman’s developing spiritual and sexual awareness.
This heartfelt story of Edna Pontellier’s doomed search of personal fulfillment was considered so shocking in 1899, it almost ruined its author. (192 pages)
From the critics
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The years that are gone seem like dreams -- if one might go on sleeping and dreaming -- but to wake up and find -- oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than remain a dupe to illusions all one's life.
There was with her a feeling of having descended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in the spiritual.
The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation.
An indescribable oppression which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish. It was like a shadow, like a mist passing across her soul's summer day.
The past was nothing to her; offered no lesson which she was willing to heed. The future was a mystery which she never attempted to penetrate. The present alone was significant, was hers, to torture her as it was doing then with the biting which her impassioned, newly awakened being demanded.
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This story of a woman's struggle with oppressive social structures received much public contempt at its first release; put aside because of initial controversy, the novel gained popularity in the 1960s, some six decades after its first publication, and has since remained a favorite of many readers. Chopin's depiction of a married woman, bound to her family and with no way to assert a fulfilling life of her own, has become a foundation for feminism and a classic account of gender crises in the late Victorian era.
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