Synopses & Reviews
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 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.
Edna Pontellier, a young wife and mother, refuses to be caged by married and domestic life and claims for herself moral and erotic freedom. Through careful, subtle changes of style, Kate Chopin shows Edna's transformation--and its tragic consequences. This volume also includes some of Chopin's finest stories, among them "At the 'Cadian Ball" and "Desiree's Baby."
About the Author
Kate Chopin (1850-1904) was born in St. Louis. She moved to Louisiana where she wrote two novels and numerous stories. Because The Awakening was widely condemned, publication of Chopins third story collection was cancelled. The Awakening was rediscovered by scholars in the 1960s and 1970s and is her best-known work.
Sandra M. Gilbert teaches at the University of California, Davis.