First published in 1899, this beautiful, brief novel so disturbed critics and the public that it was banished for decades afterward. Now widely read and admired, The Awakening has been hailed as an early vision of woman's emancipation. This sensuous book tells of a woman's abandonment of her family, her seduction, and her awakening to desires and passions that threated to consumer her. Originally entitled "A Solitary Soul," this portrait of twenty-eight-year-old Edna Pontellier is a landmark in American fiction, rooted firmly in the romantic tradition of Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson. Here, a woman in search of self-discovery turns away from convention and society, and toward the primal, irresistibly attracted to nature and the senses. The Awakening, Kate Chopin's last novel, has been praised by Edmund Wilson as "beautifully written." And Willa Cather described its style as "exquisite," "sensitive," and "iridescent." This edition of The Awakening also includes a selection of short stories by Kate Chopin.
"This seems to me a higher order of feminism than repeating the story of woman as victim... Kate Chopin gives her female protagonist the central role, normally reserved for Man, in a meditation on identity and culture, consciousness and art." -- From the introduction by Marilynne Robinson.
Kate Chopin (1850-1904) is an American offer known for penning The Awakening, one of the first American novels that focuses on women's issues without ridicule.
Susie Berneis is a versatile voice over artist with numerous narration credits to her name. She has an ear for dialect and a love for the process of developing characters, cultivated in her 20-plus years of experience as a community and regional stage actress. Based in Ann Arbor, (home of the University of Michigan, where she received her BA in English and Theatre) Susie now takes great joy in playing all the characters she encounters in her narration.
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Upon the pleasant veranda of Pere Antoine's cottage, that adjoined the church, a young girl had long been seated, awaiting his return. It was the eve of Easter Sunday, and since early afternoon the priest had been engaged in hearing the confessions of those who wished to make their Easters the following day. The girl did not seem impatient at his delay; on the contrary, it was very restful to her to lie back in the big chair she had found there, and peep through the thick curtain of vines at the people who occasionally passed along the village street.
She was slender, with a frailness that indicated lack of wholesome and plentiful nourishment. A pathetic, uneasy look was in her gray eyes, and even faintly stamped her features, which were fine and delicate. In lieu of a hat, a barege veil covered her light brown and abundant hair. She wore a coarse white cotton 'josie,' and a blue calico skirt that only half concealed her tattered shoes.
As she sat there, she held carefully in her lap a parcel of eggs securely fastened in a red bandana handkerchief.
Twice already a handsome, stalwart young man in quest of the priest had entered the yard, and penetrated to where she sat. At first they had exchanged the uncompromising 'howdy' of strangers, and nothing more. The second time, finding the priest still absent, he hesitated to go at once. Instead, he stood upon the step, and narrowing his brown eyes, gazed beyond the river, off towards the west, where a murky streak of mist was spreading across the sun.
'It look like mo' rain,' he remarked, slowly and carelessly.
'We done had 'bout 'nough,' she replied, in much the same tone.
'It's no chance tothin out the cotton,' he went on.
'An' the Bon-Dieu,' she resumed, 'it's on'y to-day you can cross him on foot.'
'You live yonda on the Bon-Dieu, donc?' he asked, looking at her for the first time since he had spoken.
'Yas, by Nid Hibout, monsieur.'
Instinctive courtesy held him from questioning her further. But he seated himself on the step, evidently determined to wait there for the priest. He said no more, but sat scanning critically the steps, the porch, and pillar beside him, from which he occasionally tore away little pieces of detached wood, where it was beginning to rot at its base.
A click at the side gate that communicated with the churchyard soon announced Pere Antoine's return. He came hurriedly across the garden-path, between the tall, lusty rosebushes that lined either side of it, which were now fragrant with blossoms. His long, flapping cassock added something of height to his undersized, middle-aged figure, as did the skullcap which rested securely back on his head. He saw only the young man at first, who rose at his approach.
'Well, Azenor,' he called cheerily in French, extending his hand. 'How is this? I expected you all the week.'
'Yes, monsieur; but I knew well what you wanted with me, and I was finishing the doors for Gros-Leon's new house' saying which, he drew back, and indicated by a motion and look that some one was present who had a prior claim upon Pere Antoine's attention.
'Ah, Lalie!' the priest exclaimed, when he had mounted to the porch, and saw her there behind the vines. 'Have you been waiting here since you confessed? Surely an hour ago!'
'You should rather have made some visits in the village, child.'
'I am not acquainted with any one in the village,' she returned.
The priest, as he spoke, had drawn a chair, and seated himself beside her, with his hands comfortably clasping his knees. He wanted to know how things were out on the bayou.
'And how is the grandmother?' he asked. 'As cross and crabbed as ever? And with that'—he added reflectively—'good for ten years yet! I said only yesterday to Butrand—you know Butrand, he works on Le Blot's Bon-Dieu place—'And that Madame Zidore: how is it with her, Butrand? I believe God has forgotten her here on earth.''It isn't that, your reverence,' said Butrand, 'but it's neither God nor the Devil that wants her!'' And Pere Antoine laughed with a jovial frankness that took all sting of ill-nature from his very pointed remarks.
Introduction: Biographical and Historical Contexts
The Complete Text [The 1969 Seyersted Edition]
New Cultural Documents New Two Contemporary Reviews of The Awakening: From "Recent Novels" (The Nation 69, 3 August 1899, 96) From "Books of the Week" (Providence Sunday Journal, 4 June 1899, 15) New Two Principles in Recent American Fiction, James Lane Allen (The Altantic Monthly, October 1897) New Home Study for Young Ladies: Visiting Cards (from Collier's Cyclopedia of Commercial and Social Information and Treasury of Entertaining Knowledge, 1887) New The Dressing-Table New Advertisements from Women's Magazines Lablanche Face Powder (Ladies Home Journal, August 1899) Braided Wire Bristles and Forms (Ladies Home Journal, May 1899) Ferris's Good Sense Corset Waists: When Beauty Reigns (Harper's Magazine, January 1899) The Whitely Exerciser (Ladies Home Journal, December 1896) New Fashion Plates from Women's Magazines Plate No. 7 (Godey's Magazine, January 1897) Plate No. 6 (Godey's Magazine, March 1897) Plate No. 7 (Godey's Magazine, August 1897) New A People Who Live Amid Romance, Ruth McEnery Stuart, (Ladies Home Journal, December 1896) New The Artist and Marriage (The Atlantic Monthly, January 1899) New What It Means to Be a Wife, Helen Watterson Moody, (Ladies Home Journal, March 1899) New The True Meaning of Motherhood,Helen Watterson Moody, (Ladies Home Journal, May 1899) New What Women Find to Do all Day (Ladies Home Journal, April 1899) New The Evolution of Woman in the South, Walter Gregory, (Godey's Magazine, October 1897)
PART II. THE AWAKENING: A CASE STUDY IN CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM
A Critical History of The Awakening
Feminist Criticism and The Awakening What Is Feminist Criticism? Feminist Criticism: A Selected Bibliography A Feminist Perspective: Elaine Showalter,Tradition and the Female Talent: The Awakening as a Solitary Book
Gender Criticism and The Awakening What Is Gender Criticism? Gender Criticism: A Selected Bibliography A Gender Perspective: New Elizabeth LeBlanc,The Metaphorical Lesbian: Edna Pontellier in The Awakening
New Historicism and The Awakening What Is New Historicism? New Historicism: A Selected Bibliography A New Historicist Perspective: Margit Stange,Personal Property: Exchange Value and the Female Self in The Awakening
Deconstruction and The Awakening What Is Deconstruction? Deconstruction: A Selected Bibliography A Deconstructionist Perspective: Patricia S. Yaeger,"A Language Which Nobody Understood": Emancipatory Strategies in The Awakening
Reader-Response and The Awakening What Is Reader-Response Criticism? Reader-Response Criticism: A Selected Bibliography A Reader-Response Perspective: Paula A. Treichler,The Construction of Ambiguity in The Awakening: A Linguistic Analysis
New Combining Critical Perspectives: Cynthia Griffin Wolff,Un-utterable Longing: The Discourse of Feminine Sexuality in Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms About the Contributors
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