The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction, by Kate Chopin, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions ...
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The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction, by Kate Chopin, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

When it first appeared in 1899, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening was greeted with cries of outrage. The novel’s frank portrayal of a woman’s emotional, intellectual, and sexual awakening shocked the sensibilities of the time and destroyed the author’s reputation and career. Many years passed before this short, pioneering work was recognized as a major achievement in American literature.

Set in and around New Orleans, The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a young wife and mother who, determined to control her own life, flouts convention by moving out of her husband’s house, having an adulterous affair, and becoming an artist.

Beautifully written, with sensuous imagery and vivid local descriptions, The Awakening has lost none of its power to provoke and inspire. Additionally, this edition includes thirteen of Kate Chopin’s magnificent short stories.

Stories Included in the Volume:
The Awakening
Emancipation: A Life Fable
A Shameful Affair
At the ‘Cadian Ball
Désirée’s Baby
A Gentleman of Bayou Têche
A Respectable Woman
The Story of an Hour
Athénaïse
A Pair of Silk Stockings
Elizabeth Stock’s One Story
The Storm
The Godmother
A Little Country Girl

Rachel Adams teaches nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature at Columbia University.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080013
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 559,389
  • Product dimensions: 4.13 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Adams teaches nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature at Columbia University.
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Read an Excerpt

From Rachel Adams's Introduction to The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction

Chopin may have begun her serious efforts as a writer out of grief. As a young widow, she contended with the provincialism of Cloutierville for two more years before returning to St. Louis to live with her mother, Eliza. When Eliza died of cancer just one year later, Chopin was heartbroken. But she also began to participate in the intellectual life of the city and to make serious efforts to establish herself as a professional author. Although she moved in literary circles, she resisted alliance with any particular group. A brief membership in the Wednesday Club, a select coterie of women intellectuals who gathered for conversation and debate, only strengthened her distaste for such organized activities. More than once, her fiction depicts women reformers or intellectuals in unflattering terms. Concerned about his wife's erratic behavior in The Awakening, Léonce consults the family doctor, who asks him if she has "been associating of late with a circle of pseudo-intellectual women-super-spiritual superior beings." These words drip with a disdain that is unrelieved by authorial commentary. Struggling to find venues for her work, Chopin wrote regularly and kept careful records of submissions and rejections. At first, she was most successful with regional publications, placing her poem "If It Might Be" in a Chicago magazine called America and short stories in the Philadelphia Music Journal and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It proved more difficult to access national periodicals like The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and Century. At a time when the social conservatism of the Victorian era still prevailed, Chopin's treatment of such controversial topics as extramarital affairs, venereal disease, murder, and miscegenation often made her work unpalatable to the major literary magazines. Eventually she would break into this market by publishing stories in nationally circulating periodicals such as Vogue, Century, and Youth's Companion.

Among Chopin's literary influences was the French writer Guy de Maupassant, whose realism and formal sophistication she admired. Her respect for his frank treatment of taboo subjects inspired her to translate a number of his stories, but their controversial nature made publication difficult. A more conventional early model was the eminent realist author and magazine editor William Dean Howells, who sent her a brief note of praise for her short story "Boulot and Boulotte." For the depiction of strong, independent female characters, Chopin looked to Sarah Orne Jewett and Mary Wilkins Freeman. She has frequently been grouped with these women as a writer of local color fiction, a genre unjustly dismissed by several generations of critics. More recently, scholars have seen her use of local color techniques as a strategy to gain a foothold in the literary marketplace and to stake a claim in contemporary debates about gender, race, and region. From this perspective, her short story "A Gentleman of Bayou Têche," in which an artist from the city attempts to exploit a humble fisherman for his "local color," reads like an allegory for the regional writer's confrontation with the literary establishment. Reviewers of Chopin's first collection, Bayou Folk (1894), failed to notice such instances of understated social commentary. While generally positive, contemporary responses hailed her depiction of charming local details, rather than her treatment of social issues. Reviewers found a more complicated outlook and maturity of authorial voice in her second collection, A Night in Acadie (1897). An essay in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch praising Chopin's artistry and psychological insight urged readers to think beyond the associations with local color, to recognize "gifts . . . that go deeper than mere patois and local description." A second review demurred, describing Chopin as a specialist in the "childlike southern people who are the subject of her brief romances" and expressing regret that some of the stories were "marred by one or two slight and unnecessary coarseness [sic]."

Despite considerable appreciation by her contemporaries, Chopin would have remained neglected by literary history if it were not for the recovery of The Awakening in the 1960s. Its renewed popularity also brought attention to the whole corpus of her work, which includes numerous poems, essays, and short stories, as well as her first novel, At Fault. These texts illuminate many of the concerns of The Awakening but are also of considerable interest in their own right. Read in its entirety, Chopin's fiction introduces a broad swath of personalities, from impoverished blacks and Acadians of the Bayou to plantation elites and urban intellectuals. Whereas some stories turn seemingly trivial events-the shopping spree of an abstemious middle-aged woman, a country girl's visit to the circus-into dramatic interior conflicts, others deal with more overtly controversial issues such as miscegenation, venereal disease, murder, and extramarital sex. The relatively circumscribed geographical parameters of Chopin's fiction extend from lively, cosmopolitan New Orleans to the insular, rural byways of nineteenth-century Louisiana. Unlike the minutely detailed, inclusive catalogues of realist fiction, her preference is for the sketch, which conveys an impression rather than a sharply delineated picture. Frequently, Chopin writes as an insider whose intimacy with her subjects is conveyed through the use of local dialect and allusions. As a result, whereas the human dramas are readily accessible, contemporary readers may struggle to gain a precise understanding of character and locale.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 59 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 59 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Subtle portrayal of womanhood

    Edna Pontellier, a resident of New Orleans, is on holiday at a Louisiana holiday resort on Grand Isle. She is with her husband and children as well as the various other guests. Their summer time activities consist of swimming, sitting on the beach, dining and participating in evening social activities. The guests are all Creole and know each other from New Orleans. Edna strikes up some comfortable friendships including spending a lot of time with Robert, the son of the resort owner. Eventually she realizes that she has gradually fallen in love with him. Not only that, but she has begun to recognize herself as an individual with her own unique sensibilities. "She felt as if a mist had been lifted from her eyes, enabling her to look upon and comprehend the significance of life, that monster made up of beauty and brutality."(p.112)

    Kate Chopin portrays her protagonist Edna as a woman who has a unique sensitivity to life and a particular appreciation for music. After the vacation the family moves back to their home in New Orleans. Now that she has awakened to her new sense of self she finds that she cannot settle back to her former life. So she moves out of her husbands home into a tiny cottage and pursues her desire to be an artist. She shuns all her responsibilities and delves into a life of freedom. It does satisfy like she had hoped it would though. Edna takes one last trip back to the resort where she notes that, "The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude."(p.154)

    This novel reminded me of Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, but it was a much easier and shorter book to read. It is a good choice if you are looking to read some 'true' classics but do not want something difficult. Chopin is not a 'wordy' writer who goes into great detail. She gives her impressions and ideas in such a way as to spark many questions in your mind rather than to cover all the themes thoroughly. The focus is on the inner psychology of the protagonists mind. The Awakening raises the interesting dilemma of being true to the self versus social responsibility. Kate Chopin's character Edna goes so far as to state, "...she would give up the unessential, but she would never sacrifice herself for her children." When thinking of her husband and children she says, "They were a part of her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess her body and soul."(p.155) Kate Chopin does not give a simple answer to this issue, leaving it open to the reader to interpret the nature of Edna and her choices.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2014

    Very good, I really Love it 

    Very good, I really Love it 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2013

    At times I found "The Awakening" to be an ironic title

    At times I found "The Awakening" to be an ironic title,because it often put me to sleep.  I can understand how at the time this novel was revolutionary in the women's right movement, but to a modern reader Edna seems selfish and careless.  I was shocked reading the final page, because I didn't think Edna was desperate enought to kill herself.  Overall I thought the writing was beautifully done,but was not a fan of the plot.  I would not recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

    Great book

    I enjoyed the writing, but certain aspects of the plot bothered me.

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    Officially one of my favorite books and authors...!

    The first Chopin piece I read was "A Pair of Silk Stockings" in tenth grade English. Intrigued by the clean and somewhat lyrical writing style of Chopin, I went home right away and put this book on my wish list. When I finally got it, I was not disappointed. The book focuses strongly on women's dissatisfaction in their marriages during the nineteenth century. The book is an easy read, and the plots are just fantastic. Definitely a must-read.

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    Haunting

    For being over a century or so old,The Awakening was an exceptionally easy read. I read it about a year ago (free nook book)& it was very good yet at times very dark. The ending left me in a funk FOR WEEKS- I didnt see the ending coming.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Surprisingly Good

    I was required to read The Awakening for a college English course in which I'm currently enrolled. I was not looking forward to reading a 'classic', especially this one. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to read and that I really got in to it. I enjoyed Edna Pontellier's story and the controversial topics that her actions can bring up. Also, I was glad Barnes & Noble offers the classics at a price of less than $5! A great bargain for a college student :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    Emotional and Heartbreaking

    This book is not only beautifully written but perfectly captures the hard ships off women in the early years. As you read you can not help but admire Edna's will power to become her own person and find her true self. This book is inspiring, inpowering and tragic all at once. I think all women should read this novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2007

    Beautifully done

    It's truly a beautiful work of literature from the first page onward, it's easy to see why this book received malicious attention in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The story is wrapped around a woman trying desperately to escape from the patriarchal world surrounding her. I originally had to read this for school, but now find myself obnoxiously picking it up during a hot summer day, letting Chopin's imagery carry me off to some other world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2006

    A Moving Novel

    If you're expecting a predictable plot, then you're wrong. This brief novel is nothing short of a masterpeice it is concise, heartfelt, unique, and tragic. Expect a good story but perhaps not a fairy tale. I can't wait to read more of Ms. Wharton's works.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2005

    AMAZING

    I had to select a novel for my AP English Lit class and I selected The Awakening knowing absolutely nothing about the author or the novel itself. This book is now one of my favorites. It conveys raw emotion and passion in a way rarely done in literature. It keeps your attention and is a must read for everyone. This is also a great pick if you do not have a lot of time on your hands, but want to read something good. (The Awakening itself is only 155 pages.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2004

    awesome!!!!

    I had to read this book for AP Lit but found myself re-reading it this summer. I loved this book. Edna is a true hero to any woman seeking to know herself. How far is it okay to go in search of knowing one's true self? Is it okay to be immoral inorder to discover one's true self? This novel raises the question in the reader's mind of whether or not Edna is moral and leaves the reader desperate to find one's personal opinion long after he has completed the novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2004

    An Emotional Thinker

    'The Awakening' is a fabulous story that allows the reader to see exactly how a woman in the protagonist's time period must feel. The story raises the question: How much self-satisfaction and happiness is a woman, a wife and mother, expected to give up for her family? Chopin uses Mrs. Pontellier to illustrate the importance and relevancy of this question. The story is written so that not only does it apply to the protagonist's time period, but also that of today's women and enforced societial standards.

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    Posted August 3, 2011

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    Posted March 6, 2011

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    Posted June 18, 2011

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    Posted July 9, 2011

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