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The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction

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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 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. --back cover 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


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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 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. --back cover 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

30 review for The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    S. Adam

    Okay, technically, I haven't finished reading the book because I still need to read the short stories that follow The Awakening. However, I must write what I think about Chopin's prized story before it escapes me. I absolutely disliked Edna Pontellier. I came into this novel with many expectations, primarily that this would be an amazing feminist novel. Nope! It was not, which I am okay with. I am not okay with how unhappy Edna is with her life. Yeah, her husband isn't super romantic, but her Okay, technically, I haven't finished reading the book because I still need to read the short stories that follow The Awakening. However, I must write what I think about Chopin's prized story before it escapes me. I absolutely disliked Edna Pontellier. I came into this novel with many expectations, primarily that this would be an amazing feminist novel. Nope! It was not, which I am okay with. I am not okay with how unhappy Edna is with her life. Yeah, her husband isn't super romantic, but her life seems to be pleasant. When he sees that she is acting peculiar, he gives her space and trust. She is wealthy, has marvelous social dinners, and two adorable sons. Her life seems pretty darn great. Yeah, I understand that she sought her personal freedom, but compared to the mulatto women she has employed as nannies and maids, she seems pretty darn free to me. I have nicknamed this book "Rich white girl problems". I may have liked her more if she was not so immature. She refuses to attend her sister's wedding for no apparent reason even though it would mean a lot to her sister and father, and she smashes vases and stomps on her wedding ring like a juvenile. Um, girl, aren't you like 28? Her love for Robert does not seem like love but more like an obsession. It promises her adventure and change, which she is justified for wanting, but she could have gone about it more maturely. First, she was never for sure that Robert reciprocated it, so it seemed like she lived mostly on fantasy. Once, Robert came back and she pulled out the truth in him, she was ready to do anything for him--not very independent. Also before Robert returns, she has that affair with Alcee just because she felt like it. Alright,cool, she should be free to do so, but it just shows how capricious she is. I suppose she is groundbreaking by breaking social norms of the time, like moving out of her home and leaving her children, but at the end her suicide just proves she is weak. She is not an example for anyone. She lacks maturity and strength. I don't see her as an example for either women or men, or anyone really. I see that she felt oppressed and suffocated,but she was too extreme in her way of escaping. I will say that I enjoy the description of the Creole life in New Orleans. I love that history that Chopin relates. I hope her short stories don't disappoint.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Yoana

    Review of The Awakening here. The short stories are also great, especially At the 'Cadian Ball, A Gentleman of Bayou Têche and Elizabeth Stock’s One Story, showing a diverse and vital talent for storytelling. The introduction, however, is dismal. First of all, it promptly spoils the novel and almost all of the stories, without any warning whatsoever. Secondly, it's rambling and lacks focus or any discernible point, wandering from trying to excuse or erase Chopin's racist beliefs to pointlessly Review of The Awakening here. The short stories are also great, especially At the 'Cadian Ball, A Gentleman of Bayou Têche and Elizabeth Stock’s One Story, showing a diverse and vital talent for storytelling. The introduction, however, is dismal. First of all, it promptly spoils the novel and almost all of the stories, without any warning whatsoever. Secondly, it's rambling and lacks focus or any discernible point, wandering from trying to excuse or erase Chopin's racist beliefs to pointlessly asking questions about her personal life that lead nowhere. And thirdly and most offensively of all, it contains completely ridiculous accounts of the short stories that feel as though they were written by an internet troll to get a rise out of Chopin lovers by purposefully misunderstanding every single one of them. (view spoiler)[ For example: the author of the introduction states the protagonist is The Story of an Hour died of happiness upon seeing her husband she'd believed to be dead - when literally the entire freaking story is about her happiness at being free from her tyrant at last and the last line is *so obviously* ironic; she believes Desiree's husband knew about his origins and purposefully lied to her in an act of supreme cruelty that drove her to suicide when it couldn't be plainer from the text that he's only then just found his mother's letter that reveals the truth - not to mention that the whole dramatic power of the ending is completely lost if that's the case; she claims the protagonist in At the 'Cadian Ball loves Calixta but marries Clarisse for her social status - his feelings fro Clarisse are directly described as a kind of love he's not known before, they drive his actions and the narrative of the story, and when she accepts him at the end I don't know how his supreme happiness could have been shown more clearly. (hide spoiler)] So, in conclusion, it's 4 stars for the novel and stories and 1 for the Introduction.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jose

    Beautifully written. I am not a big reader of feminist literature, but Chopin managed to put into words the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that surged through Edna . When reading these sort of psychological books, I notice what a tough time authors sometimes have doing this. Chopin managed to take me to late 19th century Louisiana. Nothing is superfluous or silly. For Chopin, each description of setting, every character, every piece of dialogue has purpose; there is an awesome depth to her Beautifully written. I am not a big reader of feminist literature, but Chopin managed to put into words the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that surged through Edna . When reading these sort of psychological books, I notice what a tough time authors sometimes have doing this. Chopin managed to take me to late 19th century Louisiana. Nothing is superfluous or silly. For Chopin, each description of setting, every character, every piece of dialogue has purpose; there is an awesome depth to her brevity. Chopin shows us the journey of a woman into uncharted territory; territory so absurdly remote that Chopin's contemporaries rejected it as bullshit. I think that more than ever this novel resonates with it's readers. Edna's liberation is not just a symbol of feminism, but definitely a symbol of all of our attempts at breaking apart from society. And it shows us the dangers of taking our individualism to an extreme—an extreme where we become so isolated from the people around us that we can no longer be functional members of a society.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    The Awakening has been a novella that I have been meaning to read for a very long time. It has been hailed as a feminist classic which, in a way, it is. Edna Pontellier, our main character, is feeling unhappy and frustrated with her life with a quiet husband and children. Falling in love with other man awakes her passion and yearn for a different life and she decides to take her life in her own hands. In many ways, the novella reminded me of Anna Karenina in its' themes and unlikable characters. The Awakening has been a novella that I have been meaning to read for a very long time. It has been hailed as a feminist classic which, in a way, it is. Edna Pontellier, our main character, is feeling unhappy and frustrated with her life with a quiet husband and children. Falling in love with other man awakes her passion and yearn for a different life and she decides to take her life in her own hands. In many ways, the novella reminded me of Anna Karenina in its' themes and unlikable characters. All of her short fiction in the collection as well deal with a problem which women faced in Chopin's society; when they are unhappy in their lives, they can't choose them without being shamed or hated by the people around them. However, my problem is that when all the stories deal with the same theme, they start to feel pretty much the same. In almost all of them, the wife is struggling and the husband is unfeeling or unable to present his feelings in the way that comes across to their wives. The Awakening is definitely the best part of the collection even though I must admit that the suffocation of the society didn't allow her to be as selfish as she was during the story (I am not talking about the ending, though). So yes, I do think that it is a fine example of classic feminist writing but it didn't blew me away the way I wished it to do.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gela

    Possibly one of the best books I have ever read about a depressed, hedonistic person who is likable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Becki

    This book has an underlying theme to each of its stories. Some would call it empowering for women. I would call it selfish. The women in these stories expect their lives to be perfect without any effort from themselves. I didn't like any of the stories and I will never read anything from this author again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ella

    I stumbled upon a deeply discounted cache of these B&N classics in January, and so far they're pretty enjoyable. This one is no exception. Included are timelines, essays, The Awakening and many other stories by Kate Chopin. Rachel Adams does a decent job of putting this non-English-major in the right frame, and she annotates nicely so I wasn't constantly having to search the dictionary or web to figure out what various Creole or local language actually meant. The Awakening is the big deal I stumbled upon a deeply discounted cache of these B&N classics in January, and so far they're pretty enjoyable. This one is no exception. Included are timelines, essays, The Awakening and many other stories by Kate Chopin. Rachel Adams does a decent job of putting this non-English-major in the right frame, and she annotates nicely so I wasn't constantly having to search the dictionary or web to figure out what various Creole or local language actually meant. The Awakening is the big deal here, but I enjoyed reading the other stories for the first time. Kate Chopin is constantly pushing the boundaries and reworking the themes she explored in The Awakening. Her subjects seem very modern, given the era in which she wrote. (Though the language can, at times, still be rather jarring and dissonant.) It was very helpful to have Adams' discussion of Chopin's complete work to explain that while some stories may seem racially insensitive (at best) in other ways, she's clearly progressive. Reading the extras made the actual work a bit less distressing or confusing. When rereading the Awakening, though, all I could think was that if Edna Pontellier lived in 2018, someone would have given her antidepressants (her doctor comes close to doing that anyway) and we wouldn't have this book. She'd be alive, caring for her children and who knows what would be happening internally. As a person who takes antidepressants, I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it was my overarching feeling as I read this again: nobody would let this woman just be in 2018, and it wouldn't be just the patriarchy or society that quieted her down, it would be the medical community and our most helpful selves telling her that she can get through it, and here's a little pill to help with that, now you go, girl - be everything you can be. I'm glad it was written in 1899 rather than 2018, because it's a wonderful story of a woman driven to distraction and suicide, doing all the things she's not "supposed" to do or feel, and it's pretty realistic. It may be extreme, but despite the funny words and buggy rides, this is a very modern woman's story. Most of her stories are downbeat, minor key works, but they all hone in closely on women's interior lives and the ways we navigate those interiors with the external world. She doesn't give easy answers, but she always makes me think.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Penninga

    Kate Chopin & Mary Shelley are such goddess of the written word! I love this book, and reading it again, appreciated Chopin’s insight into the world of the late 1800’s. An awakening truly becomes a prison when there is no place to spread one’s wings. “Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusion all one’s life.” “But I don’t want anything but my own way. That is wanting a good deal, of course, when you have to trample upon the lives, the Kate Chopin & Mary Shelley are such goddess of the written word! I love this book, and reading it again, appreciated Chopin’s insight into the world of the late 1800’s. An awakening truly becomes a prison when there is no place to spread one’s wings. “Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusion all one’s life.” “But I don’t want anything but my own way. That is wanting a good deal, of course, when you have to trample upon the lives, the hearts, the prejudices, of others— but no matter— still, I shouldn’t want to trample upon the little lives.” “A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her, the light which, showing the way, forbids it.”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sierra Bookworm☺️♪

    I read The Awakening in October for AP English Literature, then slowly made my way through the short stories in the back. I would rate all of the stories in this bind-up between 3.5-5 stars, so I just went with the highest number :). All together, I really enjoyed reading through Chopin's notable works and admire her strength and understanding that shows through them.

  10. 4 out of 5

    James Henry

    I get why this entered the feminist literature canon in the 60s and 70s. But I also understand why people kinda shrugged their shoulders when it came out in 1899.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristy Halseth

    I read this in college and while I admit it was a well written book, I found it to be incredibly depressing. So much so that I will never read it again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Biblio-Athena

    "In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her...-perhaps more wisdom than the Holy Ghost is usually pleased to vouchsafe to any woman." -The Awakening I'll be honest, as forward-thinking, liberal, feminist, and scandalous as the The Awakening and the other short stories in this book may be, I found it a little tedious to get through. I had hoped to finish this "In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her...-perhaps more wisdom than the Holy Ghost is usually pleased to vouchsafe to any woman." -The Awakening I'll be honest, as forward-thinking, liberal, feminist, and scandalous as the The Awakening and the other short stories in this book may be, I found it a little tedious to get through. I had hoped to finish this book sooner, but somehow it took a month to get through. If you consider the time period this book is set in, the plot of The Awakening could be considered quite scandalous. However, I think having a little background of Chopin, as is offered through the timeline and introduction provided in this book, helps you understand her sentiments. Chopin was one to make her views known, about the value of women's independence, self-love, as well as about race and diversity. While the end of The Awakening still suggests a romantic notion of love and women's stereotypical idea about it, the lead-up was still one that meant to make clear that a woman should be master of her own life. This was also very abjectly (and quite tragically) made clear in the short story The Story of an Hour. "There would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself. here would be no powerful will bending hers in that persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature." - The Story of an Hour My favourite story in this book, though, was Desiree's baby. So heart-wrenching. I think, especially considering the circumstances we are living in now, this story is so appropriate and profound. It brings to the forefront the discussion of race, and how we esteem one's color above their character. It is a bittersweet read, with a start full of promise, and a sort of cliff-hanger ending of a revelation. I don't want to spoil it but let's just say I'd hate to be in his shoes. The other short stories were not as memorable. I didn't like the thread of promoting adultery that ran through the stories, that even when married or committed that it is permissible to cheat in order to have a taste of freedom. That suggestion left a sour taste in my mouth. I think adultery is unforgivable, especially that which is done in complete secret and hidden behind the pretense that you would never, ever do such a thing. That just seems very unfair to your partner, who has to live with your lie, believing you could do no such thing. Neither a man nor a woman should be forgiven for deceiving the other so. That was one aspect of the 'women's independence and self-before-others' theme of these stories that I gave a thumbs down to. The writing is not necessarily the kind that pulls you in. It's a very basic narrative, a telling of a story. There is plot, character development, and story development, but that escalation is not one you want to run up in order to reach the climax, but one you dawdle up to. You need some rough terrain in order to make the story an enjoyable, bumpy ride. But hey, it's a classic. It makes good points, it's eye-opening, it's brash, it's open-minded. There is a lot to take away from these stories. So if you would rather read for plot, look elsewhere. But if you want to read for a life lesson, it's worth picking up. "The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings." Instagram | Blog | Twitter | Tumblr

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Imagine you were married to a man (or woman) who treated you like a piece of property, like you were a house that had to be maintained-not even like a dog that could be adored. Edna Pontellier doesn't have to imagine. At age 28, she is married to Leonce Pontellier and has two children. She is on autopilot, never coloring outside of his clearly marked lines. Let me give you an example of how insufferable Leonce is: So, Edna wants some time alone and is relaxing in a hammock outside, when her Imagine you were married to a man (or woman) who treated you like a piece of property, like you were a house that had to be maintained-not even like a dog that could be adored. Edna Pontellier doesn't have to imagine. At age 28, she is married to Leonce Pontellier and has two children. She is on autopilot, never coloring outside of his clearly marked lines. Let me give you an example of how insufferable Leonce is: So, Edna wants some time alone and is relaxing in a hammock outside, when her husband walks up and says are you coming in to bed. And she's all no thanks I'm gonna chill here. And he's like ok and sits by her drinking and smoking a cigar. He gets another drink, lights another cigar. After a few hours she's like I guess I'll go to bed because this joker won't leave me alone. She goes in the house and asks for formality's sake are you coming to bed. And he's all when I finish this cigar. He always has to win. A.l.w.a.y.s. It's infuriating, and not in a charming-Rhett-Butler-way. Anyway, the family spends the summer on the Grand Isle off the gulf coast of Louisiana, where Edna befriends Adele and where she meets Robert, both contribute to the snow-ball effect of her "awakening." Adele is a chaste married woman who is very much in love with her husband and devoted to her children. She is what Leonce Pontellier considers to be "the ideal woman." Despite her purity, Adele is a Creole woman and very outspoken. She says things that Edna's more reserved manner deems unrefined, yet Edna soon learns to appreciate Adele's idiosyncrasies and adopts some of her outspokenness. Robert and Edna spend ample time together on the Isle, bathing, talking, just laying about in the sun. Their adoration for each other grows quickly; however, it takes Edna a while to figure out what she's feeling (of course!). And the awakening begins! But her husband's presence really dulls the whole romance. When Robert realizes that he is in love with a married woman, he packs up and abruptly moves to Mexico. After he is gone, Edna's awakening is still developing. She learns that she doesn't ever want to sacrifice herself for anyone, including her husband and children. Edna would give her life for her children, but herself is a sacred thing that she seeks to protect. She begins to shed her old nature and embodies the New Woman. Edna moves out of her husband's house, has an purely physical affair (while Robert is in Mexico), and takes up painting, which she used to do before she got married. This novel was revolutionary for its time. Chopin overturned Victorian era novels by really focusing on a woman's inner life, her sexuality, her rationale, and her yearning for independence. A woman sleeps with a man she doesn't love! *Gasp* A woman wants five minutes to herself! Well, I never. A lot of folks think Edna is selfish and I would agree to some extent; but, who isn't selfish? For Edna, the only way out, the only way to fight is to make herself the top priority. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence would try to escape a loveless marriage and an unproductive life like Edna's. Plus, I refuse to buy into the idea that when a woman has children her life must be forfeited. And I'm stepping off the soap box... As much as I liked this book and recommend it to everyone, all I could think at the end was, thank God that was over 110 years ago.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 3.0 stars Read for my Advanced Placement Literature and Composition class. This novel was assigned to me over the summer in preparation for my AP class. And while I was not completely blown away, there were some things I enjoyed. 90% of this book dragged quite a bit, and I was thoroughly bored out of my mind. It picks up in the end, with Edna's suicide. There was not one character I liked in this entire novel. Most of them seemed ditsy, or dramatic *cough* Edna *cough*, or downright dull. And 3.0 stars Read for my Advanced Placement Literature and Composition class. This novel was assigned to me over the summer in preparation for my AP class. And while I was not completely blown away, there were some things I enjoyed. 90% of this book dragged quite a bit, and I was thoroughly bored out of my mind. It picks up in the end, with Edna's suicide. There was not one character I liked in this entire novel. Most of them seemed ditsy, or dramatic *cough* Edna *cough*, or downright dull. And although this partly is due to the time period, I still feel as though Chopin could've done a better job at making her characters likable. To be honest, my favorite character was the caged bird in the beginning. Which brings me to my next point. Symbolism is used in all of Chopin's works so beautifully, and this work was no exception. I loved how the caged birds in the beginning symbolize Edna and Mademoiselle Reisz. I loved how she was so scared of the sea in the beginning, and then it became her escape. I loved how her children symbolizes the life she hated, and the Pigeon House symbolizes the life she so desperately wanted. Although I didn't particularly care for Edna, you can certainly empathize with her. She lived the first part of her life with a strict father, and then was married off to a man she didn't love, from a society she didn't understand. She was left to be someone's property, to care for children she never wanted. However, even if she didn't want her children, her very obvious neglect was very concerning. While I understand it was really not her choice to have her children, you would think she would be a little more mindful of them and their well-being. The most she thought about them was when she decided she absolutely had to kill herself because society would ridicule them for their mother's actions. Now let's discuss her awakenings. I thought they were very well done. Robert awakened her sensually, by loving her and being the man she loved. I found it sad that he decided to leave her forever. Of course, Arobin awakened her sexually. Her final awakening, in the sea, was where she finally realizes society's views of her will not change, and the only way she can be happy to escape the world. Overall, while the writing dragged on for the vast majority, Chopin does have a way with words. She arranges her sentences in such a way that is nothing short of beautiful, using only the best words to paint her images and create her story.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Richp

    I read the part of the intro first, the short stories second, the novel third, and finished the intro and other stuff last. Damn the notes for spoilers for other portions, but fortunately I did not read the spoilers in the intro. I rate the stories 5, The Awakening 4, and the Rachel Adams stuff 1. The stories were a real find for me, and I rate some of them among the best I've ever read. There are many 500 page novels that contain less to think about than some of these shorts, which is OK if they I read the part of the intro first, the short stories second, the novel third, and finished the intro and other stuff last. Damn the notes for spoilers for other portions, but fortunately I did not read the spoilers in the intro. I rate the stories 5, The Awakening 4, and the Rachel Adams stuff 1. The stories were a real find for me, and I rate some of them among the best I've ever read. There are many 500 page novels that contain less to think about than some of these shorts, which is OK if they contain a good story, but many long novels don't. This was a real surprise to me, I did not expect nearly so much. The Awakening suffers somewhat in comparison, primarily by its lack of brevity, but it is still an interesting novel. The intro should have been split into an intro with a brief bio and description of the time and place of writing and publishing, and a follow-up piece at the end with the critical and public reaction, along with any analysis and plot discussion. The way this was put together, I classify this as part of the "literature education" business that is so concerned with its hoity-toity status as a profession, that it takes much of the joy out of reading.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    This book honestly had a big impact on me when I was in highschool. I read it in the summer before my junior year of high school, when I had just turned 16. I was immediately captivated by Chopin's beautiful, lyrical way of writing, as if she were painting a portrait of this forgotten, enchanted world of Lousiana and the Créole culture. The book both shocked me and marked me, and it encouraged me to read a very well-written biography on Kate Chopin in the months to follow. Nice to see such an This book honestly had a big impact on me when I was in highschool. I read it in the summer before my junior year of high school, when I had just turned 16. I was immediately captivated by Chopin's beautiful, lyrical way of writing, as if she were painting a portrait of this forgotten, enchanted world of Lousiana and the Créole culture. The book both shocked me and marked me, and it encouraged me to read a very well-written biography on Kate Chopin in the months to follow. Nice to see such an independent, foreward thinking woman (Kate Chopin) who, though her life was marked by several early deaths, nevertheless had a relatively happy life with her husband, who encouraged her in her writing until his untimely death. Most recently, I reread this book for a Feminist literature class here in France entitled "The Three Faces of Eve." It's been a joy to reread this work of literature after six years of intensive study of the French language. It certainly makes the task of interpretating the "local color" passages much easier! This book is a gem, and the short stories are all worth a read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I did not care for this book at all. "The Awakening" at the very least merited a reading, but the other pieces are simply not good at all. The interesting thing about "The Awakening" is that it might be termed an "existential" work, long before that term came into popular use. I found the central concern of the story to be an engagement of Albert Camus' declaration that the only legitimate philosophical question is whether or not to commit suicide. Kate Chopin does deserve credit for attempting I did not care for this book at all. "The Awakening" at the very least merited a reading, but the other pieces are simply not good at all. The interesting thing about "The Awakening" is that it might be termed an "existential" work, long before that term came into popular use. I found the central concern of the story to be an engagement of Albert Camus' declaration that the only legitimate philosophical question is whether or not to commit suicide. Kate Chopin does deserve credit for attempting to address this question in her book, but in the end, I do not feel she provided an adequate answer for her heroine's actions. That aside, I was not engaged by the writing and found myself in a hurry to finish the story, simply to be done with it. The summary on the back of the book describes the story as "inspiring". I found myself at a loss as to the nature of the inspiration. Lacking that, I finished reading without having been moved in any way emotionally or intellectually. The other pieces in the book I found simply awful. The writing was poor, the attempts at working in dialect embarassing, the stories themselves tending towards triteness.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Verma

    Kate Chopin is officially one of the best authors I've read works of. Breathtakingly beautiful; I'm afraid any review I write will not be able to do justice to the beauty The Awakening is. It really did take up and wonderfully portrayed, like the title suggests, the awakening of a woman. More like, human beings in general. You don't have to necessarily be a woman or have a feminist approach to life to understand or appreciate this work of Chopin. I believe there are these empty places in our Kate Chopin is officially one of the best authors I've read works of. Breathtakingly beautiful; I'm afraid any review I write will not be able to do justice to the beauty The Awakening is. It really did take up and wonderfully portrayed, like the title suggests, the awakening of a woman. More like, human beings in general. You don't have to necessarily be a woman or have a feminist approach to life to understand or appreciate this work of Chopin. I believe there are these empty places in our soul that only a few exceedingly beautiful things in life can fill up. And for me, this book, The Awakening and the other short fiction did that magic. I read all of Chopin's short stories with as much enthusiasm as I read The Awakening. My favorite of all the thirteen short stories present in this edition was Desiree's Baby. It was crazy good. Feminism and racial inequality exquisitely blended together to form a delightful read. Also, there were a lot of sentences in all the stories in French, which this lovely edition, Barnes & Noble Classics had translated for better understanding of the works. So if you can get your hands on this edition, that'd be pretty good.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Well i just got done reading chapter 1 and i must say its really good, i mean i kind of didn't get it at first but once i read some more its not that bad it starts off talking about a bird i think or something like that, but them it talks about some lady that has her family and how its hard for her to be a mother when she has her husband always telling her how to be a better mom and she doesn't like that but she just deals with it because there is nothing she can really say to him i mean she Well i just got done reading chapter 1 and i must say its really good, i mean i kind of didn't get it at first but once i read some more its not that bad it starts off talking about a bird i think or something like that, but them it talks about some lady that has her family and how its hard for her to be a mother when she has her husband always telling her how to be a better mom and she doesn't like that but she just deals with it because there is nothing she can really say to him i mean she understands that he is just trying to help her, but at the same time i get it that it gets annoying but for now the book is good, and getting better. Well i stared reading more in too the book and its really good i mean its kind of over this lonely old lady that has a bird as her pet and its kind of like not here's really but it is there too keep her company and she doesn't really know why, so she starts being nice too the bird and for her it kind of represent her spirit...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    A very good book. I read this version back in the good old days when the cover still had a picture of a naked woman on it, not just some dude with baggy pants. I have to admit, 'The Awakening' itself left me kind of underwhelmed. Just another story about a put-upon woman cheating on her obnoxious husband that suffers from having no interesting characters. Edna Pontellier was every bit as adulterous as Anna Karenina (about whom I had finished reading a few days earlier) but too flat to be A very good book. I read this version back in the good old days when the cover still had a picture of a naked woman on it, not just some dude with baggy pants. I have to admit, 'The Awakening' itself left me kind of underwhelmed. Just another story about a put-upon woman cheating on her obnoxious husband that suffers from having no interesting characters. Edna Pontellier was every bit as adulterous as Anna Karenina (about whom I had finished reading a few days earlier) but too flat to be anywhere near as sympathetic. No, the real wealth in this book is in the thirteen Chopin short stories that come after the 'Awakening' proper. This woman had Sarah orne Jewett's talent for sympathetic and poignant local color, Edgar Allan Poe's sense of the macabre and messed-up, Edith Wharton's mad social commentary skills, and O. Henry's love of a good ironic twist; and all before I was really familiar with the short stories of any of those people.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    "'You are burnt beyond recognition,' he added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property…" I just read The Awakening out of this. It was a re-read for me. I love the story bout Edna Pontellier becoming herself instead of society's idea of what she should be. I love watching her transition from a domesticated woman to an independent woman. It is one of the classic feminist books. My biggest problem with it was that, as much as I love the story, and it was an "'You are burnt beyond recognition,' he added, looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property…" I just read The Awakening out of this. It was a re-read for me. I love the story bout Edna Pontellier becoming herself instead of society's idea of what she should be. I love watching her transition from a domesticated woman to an independent woman. It is one of the classic feminist books. My biggest problem with it was that, as much as I love the story, and it was an enjoyable read, I don't really care about half of the characters. They frankly annoy me. And sometimes Chopin's writing was kind of…cheesy? And also a bit obvious. Sometimes I'd read a part and be like "Thank you Kate, I got that. Didn't need the paragraph long explanation, but alright." But still, enjoyable story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    This book is alleged to have caused great scandal in it's day and been called the first women's lib book and all that...I saw it differently, I saw it as a very erudite story of selfishness. It's one thing I guess to not want to be "owned" by your husband and pursue a life where all you look after is yourself - but i think if you're married you should go fucking around with two losers while your husband is away on business, while you've packed off your kids to live elsewhere and then swim to This book is alleged to have caused great scandal in it's day and been called the first women's lib book and all that...I saw it differently, I saw it as a very erudite story of selfishness. It's one thing I guess to not want to be "owned" by your husband and pursue a life where all you look after is yourself - but i think if you're married you should go fucking around with two losers while your husband is away on business, while you've packed off your kids to live elsewhere and then swim to your suicide when things don't go your way. I don't argue that the way women were treated in those days was not equal to men and that they were expected to be a certain way - but this would not be the way a sane person would combat that. She was just a selfish, self-centered (insert expletive here). Or maybe I'm too stupid to see the point.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Girl Underground

    Chopin didn't waste a single word. I enjoy embellished writing, but nothing's as fulfilling as meat-and-potatoes prose--simple, easy, and good; Chopin shows that she had a sound understanding of storytelling. As for the subject matter, especially of the main story, all through the book, I found myself deeply moved. I hate talking about social issues in my reviews because a couple of women's studies classes doesn't qualify me, but here goes some simple prattle, anyway. The story of women having Chopin didn't waste a single word. I enjoy embellished writing, but nothing's as fulfilling as meat-and-potatoes prose--simple, easy, and good; Chopin shows that she had a sound understanding of storytelling. As for the subject matter, especially of the main story, all through the book, I found myself deeply moved. I hate talking about social issues in my reviews because a couple of women's studies classes doesn't qualify me, but here goes some simple prattle, anyway. The story of women having to fulfill roles, as wives and mothers, that they couldn't put their hearts into isn't new, but in Chopin's day, writing about it was so unacceptable that most people didn't even try to understand. I get it, though.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    It was alright. I know that I'm supposed to say something more on the classic works of Chopin (and it does have some of my favorite short stories such as "Desiree's Baby" and a new delight, "The Godmother"), but I'll be honest: Edna Pontillier does not fill my heart with warmth, sympathy, or thrill. She just kind of is, even when you place her within the context of nineteenth century society. Although I think this is an important book to read, I would suggest a Charlotte Perkins Gilman short It was alright. I know that I'm supposed to say something more on the classic works of Chopin (and it does have some of my favorite short stories such as "Desiree's Baby" and a new delight, "The Godmother"), but I'll be honest: Edna Pontillier does not fill my heart with warmth, sympathy, or thrill. She just kind of is, even when you place her within the context of nineteenth century society. Although I think this is an important book to read, I would suggest a Charlotte Perkins Gilman short story or any of Edith Wharton's works if you're keen on The Big Feminine Struggle Before Ladies Got Emancipated In The Poll Booth And The Pants. Nothing against the late Ms. Chopin, of course, but I just prefer them to this.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Okay, so I'm not going to critique this book like most people, where they complain about the feminism, the poor moral values, etc. etc. I'm certainly no feminist and definitely no adulterer, but I loved this book because of its mood. Maybe it had to do with my state of mind, but I found this book to be a beautiful literary escape. I was captivated by the world Chopin spun and I got lost in the "romanticism" of the book. I just plain enjoyed reading it, and maybe that has to do with the fact that Okay, so I'm not going to critique this book like most people, where they complain about the feminism, the poor moral values, etc. etc. I'm certainly no feminist and definitely no adulterer, but I loved this book because of its mood. Maybe it had to do with my state of mind, but I found this book to be a beautiful literary escape. I was captivated by the world Chopin spun and I got lost in the "romanticism" of the book. I just plain enjoyed reading it, and maybe that has to do with the fact that I was just reading. Sure, it was a school assignment, but I remember not treating it as such (thanks Kasper, for allowing us this freedom in our reading) and just letting myself literally sit back and enjoy it for what it is: beautiful prose.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

    Chopin weaves a landscape that is easy to lose ones self within. Forget where you are while you read. Beautiful as that is, though, the most impressive element to me is how in touch Chopin is with the mind of her protagonist and how much of that she can bring the reader in on when much of the time the character is themselves unaware. I don't see some of the social problems I've heard others fault to this work. I just see a character who is a flawed piece of humanity trying as best as possible to Chopin weaves a landscape that is easy to lose ones self within. Forget where you are while you read. Beautiful as that is, though, the most impressive element to me is how in touch Chopin is with the mind of her protagonist and how much of that she can bring the reader in on when much of the time the character is themselves unaware. I don't see some of the social problems I've heard others fault to this work. I just see a character who is a flawed piece of humanity trying as best as possible to do what her soul demands. Sure, there are additional injustices present even beyond the ones Edna rebels against, but Edna is Edna and not a stereotype of a saint who would have to be perfect.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David

    My prior review was on the "Awakening" which was thoroughly enjoyed. Most of the short stories that we're not as enjoyable. They we're difficult to read. The only thing that I learned was the author's tendency to write about bad marriages, particularly with the nuance that the husband, while doting and outwardly caring, never seemed to really focus on the wives issues, and suicide as a solution (I am not convinced that is necessarily a bad thing). The one story I did enjoy, and that was My prior review was on the "Awakening" which was thoroughly enjoyed. Most of the short stories that we're not as enjoyable. They we're difficult to read. The only thing that I learned was the author's tendency to write about bad marriages, particularly with the nuance that the husband, while doting and outwardly caring, never seemed to really focus on the wives issues, and suicide as a solution (I am not convinced that is necessarily a bad thing). The one story I did enjoy, and that was different then the others, was "The Godmother", where the Godmother was willing to assist her God son, our of pure love. This story dealt with one's conscience, and was most interesting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    LOVED the language--I could not only see the settings of the story, but I could feel the scenes as much as I have enjoyed the lackadaisical afternoon seeing Spanish moss dripping from a live oak. I could feel Edna's need for her own life, but I must admit I was disappointed with the swiftness with which the end came. I would have liked to see even more of her unraveling, as the pacing of most of the story was so genteel, but the ending so savagely quick. As for the other stories, I enjoyed LOVED the language--I could not only see the settings of the story, but I could feel the scenes as much as I have enjoyed the lackadaisical afternoon seeing Spanish moss dripping from a live oak. I could feel Edna's need for her own life, but I must admit I was disappointed with the swiftness with which the end came. I would have liked to see even more of her unraveling, as the pacing of most of the story was so genteel, but the ending so savagely quick. As for the other stories, I enjoyed "Desiree's Baby," "The Story of an Hour" and "Elizabeth Stock's One Story" the most. Chopin was good at the surprise twist ending; the endings of the other stories just felt unfinished.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    "It's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all", or however the saying goes...one description which fits Chopin's "The Awakening". Not only is Edna awakening to new ideals about herself, she is awakening to the fact that life does not have to be ordinary. I identified with Edna and all of the conventions which bound her. To be free of what society says is right and just to enjoy living and enjoying the companionship of others without restrictions (especially concerning her "It's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all", or however the saying goes...one description which fits Chopin's "The Awakening". Not only is Edna awakening to new ideals about herself, she is awakening to the fact that life does not have to be ordinary. I identified with Edna and all of the conventions which bound her. To be free of what society says is right and just to enjoy living and enjoying the companionship of others without restrictions (especially concerning her "love lost", Robert), this story is heart-wrenching. A great work which celebrates feminism at its humblest beginnings.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    In the tradition of Madame Bovary, the Awakening was another selfish-main-character-who-is-unsatisfied-with-her-life story that I enjoyed. I can understand where she's coming from based on the social expectations and her past decisions. I think M. Reisz is a very important character as she epitomized the single female without a care for what others thought. Ultimately Edna couldn't be bothered to make a real (& unfinanced by her husband) effort to make a change. I did love how at the end she In the tradition of Madame Bovary, the Awakening was another selfish-main-character-who-is-unsatisfied-with-her-life story that I enjoyed. I can understand where she's coming from based on the social expectations and her past decisions. I think M. Reisz is a very important character as she epitomized the single female without a care for what others thought. Ultimately Edna couldn't be bothered to make a real (& unfinanced by her husband) effort to make a change. I did love how at the end she said robert didn't matter; that there'd always be someone or something else. At least she wasn't doing what she did at the end for him. (she was still crazy) Sorry so long...

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