The Awakening and Selected Short Stories

Kate Chopin, Marilynne Robinson (University of Iowa)

The Awakening and Selected Short Stories
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The Awakening and Selected Short Stories

Kate Chopin, Marilynne Robinson (University of Iowa)

The Awakening is a novel by Kate Chopin; with an Introduction by Marilynne Robinson, first published in 1899. Set in New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the nineteenth century, the plot centers around Edna Pontellier and her struggle to reconcile her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century South. It is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women’s issues without condescension. It is also widely seen as a landmark work of early feminism. The novel’s blend of realistic narrative, incisive social commentary, and psychological complexity makes The Awakening a precursor of American modernism; it prefigures the works of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway and echoes the works of contemporaries such as Edith Wharton and Henry James. The Awakening is one of the earliest examples of feminism in literature, and the book’s criticism of acceptable female social roles and emphasis on women’s sexuality caused it to be received with a mixture of praise and criticism.

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