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The Awakening (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – 1 Jan 1994

3.7 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; New edition edition (1 Jan. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486277860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486277868
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

Format: Paperback
A century after the publication of Kate Chopin's novel, its themes -- a woman's awakening to the full potential of her sexual passion and her sense of being smothered by marriage and motherhood -- have become the staple ingredients of 'chick lit'. It is thus easy to overlook how revolutionary and shocking the events and ideas of this story must have seemed at the time. Then, the book was banned from public libraries in America; now, it is required reading in schools.
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This reminded me very much of Madame Bovery as they are both women who are trapped in their marriage by the constraints of their social world and time period.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First time Kate Chopin read. Kate knew her word weaving and transformed me vividly to her plantation worlds. The stories touched my heart, stories with superb plot line and superior characterisation. A collection of stories I will reread in years to come. A first time, and indeed second time read, will not suffice in shining a thorough diagnostic examining light on the storyline layers weaved into the intricate fabric of each tale. A superb storyteller and word craftsman with The End written over her life story too soon, depriving literature of a giant great.
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By Dr R TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 July 2013
Format: Paperback
I am reading The Women's Press edition, reprinted in 1987, which looks just like the 19th century novel that it is, not at all welcoming and with a front cover illustration that is frankly hideous. This is a great pity as the novel is well worth reading, even by a man. There is a helpful and informative introduction by Helen Taylor that I read after finishing the novel.

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.
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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
The lot of women in the 19th century wasn't a terribly impressive one -- many of them had been reduced to babymakers and inoffensive "property" for the men.

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.
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