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The Awakening and Other Stories (Modern…
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The Awakening and Other Stories (Modern Library Classics)

by Kate Chopin

Other authors: Nina Baym (Editor), Kaye Gibbons (Introduction)

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Thoughts on the stories only: Chopin did a great job of capturing people and characters in little space. Some of her stories are incredibly short, but the two characters’ thoughts are foremost. I most enjoyed the stories about women in distinct situations, and some of Chopin's stories are ones I intend to revisit many times. I wasn’t, overall, impressed with the short stories that were in dialect, as the setting, the French, and the unfamiliar themes were not interesting to me.
  rebeccareid | Jul 4, 2011 |
Substance: The short stories are entertaining, in the 19th century style, with interesting views of the Louisiana Creole milieu. The sentiments exhibited are conventional romances, although with wit and some insight.
The novel "The Awakening" might better be termed "The Abandonment."
I suggest that it was considered unacceptable as much for for its denigration of the roles of wife and mother, as for the restrained sensuality and "coded" adultery, although I'm sure Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn would have disapproved of the book.

Style: Chopin writes smoothly and easily, with succulent descriptive passages. The use of dialect is not overly intrusive (compare "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and a host of grade-B writings from the period up through the 1950s).

SPOILER ALERT
The self-indulgent protagonist seems never to have outgrown her youthful fantasies, and certainly made no effort to extend herself to understand her husband or care for her children (which she admitted).
There have always been women with no desire to be encumbered by a family (her family removed her from a convent at some age, if I remember rightly). To accept the task and then shirk it, as Edna did, does not become justified by the claim that she didn't understand herself until later. Depriving her children of their mother is not a noble act, although they probably won't ever miss her, since she interacted with them as little as possible. (At least she didn't kill herself in front of them, compare "The Horse Whisperer".) She exhibited the ultimate self-centered act in choosing death over her obligations to them, rather than remain "unfulfilled", although it is not really clear what she might have been missing out on other than some vague feeling that she was somehow "entitled to more" than she had (Chopin never admits that Edna was just randy for the younger man).
Even so, her actual adultery was not with the man she hankered after, and involved no passion at all, rather an ennui induced by not taking her job as wife and mother seriously.
see page 364 on her desertion of her family.
p. 368: Society, by moving further along Chopin's path, has fixed the wrong problem, as usual. Although individual development should not be unrighteously hindered by family roles, it also should not constitute the whole of life.
See Jane Smiley's book about reading 100 novels, in which she details (approvingly) the contribution of "classic" novels to the destruction of the traditional family and marriage.

NOTES: In re Edna Pontellier's detachment from her children, despite claiming "she would die for them" - it is a mistake to drug women in childbirth, and then turn the kids over to nannies. The mothers have no opportunity to bond with them, or learn how to relate to them. Also, Edna had no mother herself to learn from. ( )
  librisissimo | Jan 25, 2011 |
I always knew that this book is considered a feminist classic. What I did not know, however, is that Chopin writes with such flair, genuine emotion, and amazing local color. Even her earlier, less polished short stories shine with an amazing sincerity and clarity of energy. She was ahead of her time and continues to be relevant, and it's a shame that she wasn't able to become properly renown in her lifetime. ( )
  heina | Dec 28, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Chopinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baym, NinaEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gibbons, KayeIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Contains the novel The Awakening and 12 other short stories, including "Love on the Bon-Dieu" (see description for exact titles)
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Book description
Contains:  From Bayou fold (1894). 
Love on the Bon-Dieu ; 
Beyond the bayou ; 
A visit to Avoyelles ; 
La belle Zoraide ; 
In Sabine --
From A night in Acadie (1897). 
Ozeme's holiday ; 
A matter of prejudice ; 
At Cheniere Caminada ; 
A respectable woman ; 
Regret ; 
Athenaise ; 
A night in Acadie --
The awakening (1899).
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679783334, Paperback)

Introduction by Kaye Gibbons
Edited and with notes by Nina Baym
Commentary by Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and from The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book
 
The Awakening shocked turn-of-the-century readers with its forthright treatment of sex and suicide. Departing 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 life are the themes of this now-classic novel. As Kaye Gibbons points out in her Introduction, Chopin “was writing American realism before most Americans could bear to hear that they were living it.” This edition includes selected stories from Chopin’s Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie.
 
Includes a Modern Library Reading Group Guide

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:13:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When a Louisiana woman meets a young resort owner while on vacation, she begins to fall in love with him despite her own marriage.

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