Kate Chopin's riveting, daring story of one woman's search for personal freedom was so far ahead of its time that its publication aroused a storm of controversy violent enough to end its author's career.
With an effortless, sure-handed artistry, Chopin tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a young mother and model wife, whose romantic involvement with a young man during a vacation at a seaside resort allows her for the first time to imagine a new, freer life. Upon her return to New Orleans, Edna leaves her husband's home for her own cottage and begins an affair, only to discover that the constraints of social custom may be more powerful than she thought. Contemporary readers and reviewers were shocked by the frank, unapologetic treatment of adultery in The Awakening. The fact that we have the book at all is the most convincing tribute to its enduring, irrepressible power.
Kate Chopin (1850-1904) is an American writer best known for her stories about the inner lives of sensitive, daring women. Her novel The Awakening and her short stories are read today in countries around the world, and she is widely recognized as one of America's essential authors.
Her short stories were well received in in the 1890s and were published by some of America's most prestigious magazines-Vogue, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Young People, the Youth's Companion, and the Century. A few stories were syndicated by the American Press Association. Many of her stories also appeared in her two published collections, Bayou Folk(1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897), both of which received good reviews from critics across the country who praised them for their graceful descriptions of the lives of Creoles, Acadians, African-Americans, and other people in Louisiana. Twenty-six of her stories are children's stories-those published in or intended for children's or family magazines-the Youth's Companion and others. By the late 1890s Kate Chopin was well known among American readers of magazine fiction.
Her early novel At Fault (1890) was not much noticed, but The Awakening (1899) was widely condemned. Critics called it morbid, vulgar, and disagreeable. Chopin's work was mostly forgotten after her death, but, beginning in the 1950s, scholars rediscovered it and praised it for its truthful depictions of women's lives.