The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening

byKate Chopin

Kobo ebook | November 1, 2013

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The Awakening, originally titled A Solitary Soul, is a novel by Kate Chopin, first published in 1899. Set in New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the nineteenth century, the plot centers on Edna Pontellier and her struggle to reconcile her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century South. It is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women's issues without condescension. It is also widely seen as a landmark work of early feminism, generating mixed reaction from contemporary readers and criticism.

The novel's blend of realistic narrative, incisive social commentary, and psychological complexity makes The Awakening a precursor of American modernism; it prefigures the works of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway and echoes the works of contemporaries such as Edith Wharton and Henry James. It can also be considered among the first Southern works in a tradition that would culminate with the modern masterpieces of Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Katherine Anne Porter, and Tennessee Williams.

[Style]

Kate Chopin's narrative style in The Awakening can be categorized as naturalism. Chopin's novel bears the hallmarks of Maupassant's style: a perceptive focus on human behavior and the complexities of social structures. This demonstrates Chopin's admiration for the French short story writer Guy de Maupassant, yet another example of the enormous influence Maupassant exercised on nineteenth century literary realism.

However, Chopin's style could more accurately be described as a hybrid that captures contemporary narrative currents and looks forward to various trends in Southern and European literature.

Mixed into Chopin's overarching nineteenth century realism is an incisive and often humorous skewering of upper class pretension, reminiscent of direct contemporaries such as Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Edith Wharton, and George Bernard Shaw.

Also evident in The Awakening is the future of the Southern novel as a distinct genre, not only in setting and subject matter but in narrative style. Chopin's lyrical portrayal of her protagonist's shifting emotions is a narrative technique that Faulkner would expand upon in novels like Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury. Chopin portrays her experiences of the creole lifestyle, in which women were under strict rules and limited to the role of wife and mother, which influenced her "local color" fiction and focus on the creole culture. Chopin adopted this style in her early short stories and her first novel At Fault, which also deals with some of the issues of creole lifestyle. By using characters of French descent she was able to get away with publishing these stories, because the characters were viewed as "foreign", without her readers being as shocked as they were when Edna Pontellier, a white Protestant, strays from the expectations of society.

The plot looks forward to the stories of Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor and the plays of William Inge, while Edna Pontellier's emotional crises and her eventual tragic fall look ahead to the complex female characters of Tennessee Williams's plays. Chopin’s own life, particularly in terms of having her own sense of identity – aside from men and her children – inspired The Awakening. Her upbringing also shaped her views, as she lived with her widowed mother, grandmother and great grandmother, all of whom were intellectual, independent women. After her father was killed on All Saints’ Day and her brother died from typhoid on Mardi Gras Day, Chopin became skeptical of religion, which she presents through Edna, who finds church "suffocating". Being widowed and left with six children to look after influenced Chopin's writing, which she began at this time. Emily Toth argues against the view that Chopin was ostracized from St. Louis after the publication of The Awakening, stating that many St. Louis women praised her; male critics condemned her novel.

Aspects of Chopin's style also prefigure the intensely lyrical and experimental style of novelists such as Virginia Woolf and the unsentimental focus on female intellectual and emotional growth in the novels of Sigrid Undset and Doris Lessing. Chopin's most important stylistic legacy is the detachment of the narrator.

Title:The AwakeningFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:November 1, 2013Publisher:Starbooks Classics PublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN:9990009116646

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