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When The Awakening was first published in 1899, charges of sordidness and immorality seemed to consign it into obscurity and irreparably damage its author's reputation.
But a century after her death, it is widely regarded as Kate Chopin's great achievement.
Through careful, subtle changes of style, Chopin shows the transformation of Edna Pontellier, a young wife and mother, who - with tragic consequences - refuses to be caged by married and domestic life, and claims for herself moral and erotic freedom.
'The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude'
The Penguin English Library - collectable general readers' editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century to the end of the Second World War.
Length: 208 Pages
Dimensions: 198mm x 12mm x 129mm
Kate Chopin was born in St Louis, Missouri on 8 Feb 1850. Born Katherine O'Flaherty, she grew up in a predominantly female household after her father died when she was just four years old. Her father was an Irish immigrant, and her mother was French Creole. In 1870 she married Oscar Chopin, a local cotton trader, and together they had six children.
In 1882 Oscar died from swamp fever, leaving Kate a widow with a large family to support, and the heir to his sizeable debts. She turned to writing in order to support her young family, publishing her first short story in 1889. A number of her works were subsequently published in literary magazines and popular American periodicals, including Vogue. Chopin published only two novels in her lifetime: At Fault and The Awakening.
The Awakening, published in 1899, was largely condemned as vulgar and immoral by critics of the time. Dismayed by such a harsh reception, Chopin cut short her brief career as a novelist, and for the remainder of her life focused solely on writing short stories, poetry and reviews. Kate Chopin died on 22 August 1904 from a brain haemorrhage.