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

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


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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
A Pair of Silk Stockings
Elizabeth Stock’s One Story
The Storm
The Godmother
A Little Country Girl


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593081133
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 04/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 15,303
Product dimensions: 7.98(w) x 5.30(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

One of the first books to truthfully write about women’s lives, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening is considered a quintessential work of Southern literature and a bold foray into early feminism. Aside from The Awakening, Chopin has written numerous short stories, many exploring Cajun, Creole, and Southern identities.

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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The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
Adeline79 More than 1 year ago
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.
poetontheone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Surprisingly very readable language for its time. I purchased this book on a whim and enjoyed it very much. Recommended
novelrdr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Edna Pontellier discovers her own desires - artistic, financial, and social independence - as she matures and her marriage ages. She begins to exercise personal choices, then realizes that society is not ready to accept them.
jackichan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found the more I read of The Awakening the more I got into it. The last few chapters were rather enjoyable. A classic feminist text, worth the effort if you are interested in the cause.
RebeccaAnn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Edna, an obedient housewife, wants more from life. She's not really the housewife, motherly type. She's not fond of her children. She wants to be free to go after her own desires and it is this which, in the end, claims her life.The book, as a story, is okay. It's kind of slow and doesn't really go anywhere. I might not have finished it if it hadn't been read for a class. But I don't regret the time I spent reading it either.As a piece of feminist literature, however, this book is amazing. It shows the birth of the "new woman" and the struggle women had paving a way for their own independence. I think most disturbing is the fact that, despite everything Edna does to create her own life where she can fulfill her own desires, it all amounts to nothing. She's trapped in a male dominated society. In the end, rather than give up her own desires, she commits suicide. The more I read of this book, the more I'm glad I'm born now when it's no longer expected of me to be docile and produce babies.All in all, it's not bad. I don't think I'll be reading it again any time soon though. If you enjoy feminist literature, I would recommend this book. If you're looking more for a good story, this might not be the best book for you.3 stars.
katiekrug on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like The Awakening, I really did. As a strong, independent woman, I know it is my duty to celebrate others like me, whether real or fictional. But good Lord, Edna Pontellier has got to be one of the most unsympathetic, frustrating, and annoying heroines in all of literature.Yes, her husband was a boor, her life was a bore, and she felt stifled. I can understand that and sympathize with it, and I applauded her small declarations of independence. What I could not get past, though, was the never ending internal struggle and swings of mood and emotion from one extreme to the other. I think this book is less a classic of feminist fiction and more an early exploration of bipolarity.I will say no more so as not to give anything away. The novella is beautifully written, with incredibly evocative descriptions of place, home, weather, etc. The strength and beauty of the writing earned this one an extra star for that alone, bumping it up from a paltry two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good, I really Love it 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the writing, but certain aspects of the plot bothered me.
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Bookworm95AO More than 1 year ago
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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