The Awakening (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – 1 Jan 1994
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About the Author
A precursor of the 20th century's feminist authors, Kate Chopin (1850–1904) wrote short stories and novels for children and adults. The St. Louis native lived in New Orleans for a dozen years and set most of her tales amid Louisiana's Creole culture. Many of her stories were well ahead of their time, and she achieved widespread acclaim only after her death.
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Top Customer Reviews
In many ways, both in theme and treatment, it resembles "Madame Bovary". Although Chopin lacks Flaubert's scope and breadth of vision, she reaches deeper into the soul of her heroine. Her style is restrained and elegant and some modern readers, accustomed to a pacier and more explicit treatment, may grow impatient at times. But there is beautiful writing here, embodying rich characterizations, strong evocations of time and place and thought-provoking moral ambiguity. An undoubted masterpiece.
While Bovary deals with her situation by delving into her own fantasy world, the protagonist in The Awakening, Edna Pontellier also tries to carve her own life away from her roles as a wife and mother. The catalyst for Edna is her own 'Awakening' when she suddenly cannot bear to keep her own passions (either for music, art or sexual) within any longer.
While I can see how ground-breaking the novel must have been and I can sympathise with Edna, I did not enjoy the actual reading experience of The Awakening. I found the prose while quite dreamlike and full of imagery also quite dull and for such a short book I struggled to read to the end.
I didn't struggle to connect with Edna, I could see how she wanted to be something other than a wife and mother in that time period. I could see the point I just didn't enjoy the writing style.
The novel was published in 1899, but probably finished long before, just 5 years later from a brain haemorrhage, aged 53. According to Taylor, Chopin's published work includes 3 collections of short stories, including "Bayou Folk" and "A Night in Arcadie"; a novel, "At Fault", which addresses another contentious issue, divorce; a few dozen children's stories and assorted poems, sketches and essays.
The attitude of the otherwise sympathetic, retired Dr Mandelet when the husband of Edna Pontellier, whose awakening to social and sexual satisfaction the novel describes, approaches him about Edna's `strange' behaviour "Has she been associating of late with a circle of pseudointellectual women - superspiritual superior beings?" is presumably amongst the less hostile male responses to the novel. Many men would agree with Edna's husband who "greatly valued his possessions, chiefly because they were his" - his possessions certainly included his wife.
But one suspects that a great many women of the time were shocked by the story when they read "Edna had once told Madam Ratignolle that she would never sacrifice herself for her children, or for any one". Similarly, they could not understand Edna's response to the domestic life of the Ratignolle family "The little glimpse of domestic of domestic harmony which had been offered her, gave her no regret, no longing.Read more ›
And Kate Chopin caused a massive scandal when she wrote about one woman who drifted from societal normal in "The Awakening," leading to a world of exploration, love, and ultimately tragedy. Her misty, vaguely dreamlike writing can pull a reader into the world of 1900s New Orleans and its society, but her heroine sometimes feels more like a vessel than a fully-realized person.
Edna Pontellier is the wife of successful New Orleans businessman Léonce, and mother of two lovely young boys. Yet she is dissatisfied by her life, and feels no connection to the other wives and mothers, who idolize their motherhood and subservience. And when she encounters handsome young Creole Robert Lebrun while on vacation, she begins to "awake" to the feelings she has left behind during her marriage.
Distancing herself from Leonce and her sons, Edna begins exploring art and emotions that have been denied her by the strictures of her society -- as well as an affair with the flirtatious Alcée Arobin. She even moves out into a cottage of her own, much to the horror of those who thought they knew her. Her romantic feelings have not moved on from Robert, but his return makes her realize how different she has become...
Kate Chopin's most famous work is often cited as a sort of proto-feminist work, with a woman rebelling against the male-dominated role she has been given. The fact that a story about a woman abandoning her husband and kids caused such a scandal only adds to that belief.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Never even arrived. Waited and waited but still hasn't...Do not recommendPublished 7 months ago by Lucy
... or as the infamous Mademoiselle put it, her fight against "tradition and prejudice". As the Mademoiselle also well knew, Mme Pontellier's wings, amazing though they were,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Phil & Nina
The book was in perfect condition and arrived on time. However, frustratingly, the book did not have numbers on the pages and had Roman numerals for the chapters. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jack
An excellent service, what is expected from a good supplier.Published 12 months ago by Elizabeth Austin
This was bought as a "present" on request. I've not read the book, but have been told that "it's ok" - this from a 17 year old, which I guess is high accolade!Published 12 months ago by Jiminuk
Perfect condition, bought as a gift as supposed to be one of the feminist books to read under 30. Hopefully the intended will love it.Published 12 months ago by Nicola Thompson