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The Awakening (AmazonClassics Edition) Kindle Edition
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|Kindle, July 18, 2017|| |
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On vacation in Grand Isle, Louisiana, a married woman falls in love with a charming, attentive young man. The relationship spurs Edna Pontellier to explore her longing for independence and creative fulfillment. It also compels her to defy conventions, rejecting the constraints of marriage and motherhood.
First published in 1899, Kate Chopin’s novel drew criticism for its daring portrayal of female infidelity. Rediscovered decades later, it is now lauded for its lyricism, honesty, and astute social commentary. A groundbreaking feminist work and a landmark of modernist literature, The Awakening depicts one woman’s journey to define her true self.
Revised edition: Previously published as The Awakening, this edition of The Awakening (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.
About the Author
Kate Chopin (1850–1904) was an American writer of short stories and novels, and today she is hailed as a forerunner of modern feminist authors. Born in Saint Louis, she moved with her husband to New Orleans and later to Cloutierville, Louisiana, which later became the setting for much of her work. After her husband’s death, she began writing short stories that were published in prestigious magazines of the time and in two collections, Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie.
Her second novel, The Awakening, was published in 1899, and it was immediately subject to controversy and criticism for its sexual frankness and portrayal of female infidelity. Rediscovered and championed by scholars decades later, it is now acclaimed for its insight, sensitivity, and candor.
Kate Chopin's classic, an American Anna Karenina, joins Canongate's Canons series.
With an introduction by Barbara Kingsolver--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B073QLT3BZ
- Publisher : AmazonClassics (July 18, 2017)
- Publication date : July 18, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 1298 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 132 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : B09NR9NZH3
- Best Sellers Rank: #61,704 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #141 in Literary Fiction (Kindle Store)
- #165 in Classic Literary Fiction
- #1,595 in Classic Literature & Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2021
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Chopin’s character, Edna, is married to Leonce, a businessman, who seems to only accompany her for the family vacations in Grand Isle and is away on business the rest of the time so they can live and vacation in the manner of the wealthy. In fact, he leaves Edna to carry on as she pleases on these excursions with her best friend, Adele Ratignolle, and a handsome son of the Lebrun family, Robert, who manages the cabins. Edna and Leonce’s twins are taken care of by the “quadroon”, a racially mixed servant, whom Edna relies on almost entirely for the care of her children. She does express love for her children but motherhood is not her forte. Leonce pays less attention to his children then his wife and has no idea Edna is unhappy. Adele Ratignolle is the perfect friend, mother and wife. She is often faint and ill because of her constant state of pregnancy. Often, as a friend, she warns Edna to watch out for Robert’s propensity and temporary affection toward married women. Edna and Adele have a very close relationship and at least in one moment in the story it becomes that of a tender, almost sexual in nature, affair, but Chopin leaves that question unanswered to remain in the reader’s imagination. Then there is the quiet, solitary, pianist, Mademoiselle Reisz, whom Edna visits regularly once she returns home and is her only confidant regarding her emotional affair with Robert. Edna admires the Madame’s solitary life and herein Chopin leads us to believe Edna idolizes a lifestyle where one can do as they please.
Robert travels to Mexico to avoid an impending affair with Edna, now an artist, while she paints and dreams of sensual moments that do not involve her husband, sending her twins to visit the in-laws. Conveniently, Leonce is out of the picture long enough for her to become attracted to a replacement for Robert, Alcee Arobin, the local womanizer. Edna finally succumbs to Alcee’s persistence and consummates this affair, but continues to long for Robert. Robert does return from Mexico eventually, but the couple’s emotions battle each other to a final losing end.
Chopin leads the reader through Edna’s search for meaning of her true self, her identity crisis, and her “awakening” through the subject of sexuality. She explores topics like homosexuality and infidelity in a frank but very uncommon style for the late 19th century.
I enjoyed reading The Awakening and appreciate Chopin’s honesty and courage not only as a feminist, but as an author who brought to the public’s attention the need to re-evaluate the roles of men and women in marriage and parenting. Maybe Edna’s feelings could also apply to today’s families that spend so much of their time going separate ways instead of building lasting bonds together.
Like it or not we are sometimes subjects of our sexuality here in the 21st century as they were in 1899. This book was controversial simply because Kate Chopin let those feelings be known, quite the opposite of these days and times.
The Awakening is the story of wealthy and unhappy Edna Pontellier. She lives in New Orleans though the story opens when she is vacationing on the Louisiana coast with her husband and their two young sons. Her husband is portrayed as a stuffy bore and the children as always wanting something. At the summer resort she meets a variety of people. Her close friend is very conventional, pregnant again, and would sacrifice anything for her children. Another female vacationer is a pianist and an unconventional single woman. She offers an alternative view of life for a woman. Edna falls in love with the resort owner's flirtatious son Robert Lebrun. When she returns to her daily life in New Orleans, Edna is despondent. She misses Robert and she is unhappy being a wife and mother. She tries to carve out some independence with her painting. When her husband leaves on an extended business trip, she has an affair with a notorious womanizer. She ends the affair on her own terms. Still unhappy and unfulfilled, she rents a small house which she intends to live in on her own. Her husband is appalled, but he is mainly concerned about appearances. In a move worthy of today's best spin doctors, he makes arrangements to renovate their house in order to explain his wife living elsewhere. In the meantime, Robert returns, sparks fly, and he leaves again. Edna returns to the coast alone.
That is a lot of story in a short book. The writing is descriptive and evocative without being too flowery. The real power is in the main character daring to defy a woman's prescribed role. She tries to assert herself in small ways, but becomes bolder when this does not work. There is a great scene when Edna decides to sleep outside in a hammock. Her husband orders her in the house. When she refuses, he sits on the porch with her all night. He drinks wine and smokes cigars while she tries to sleep. It is a great example of the passive-aggressive behavior that occurs in most marriages at some point. I noticed that some reviewers do not like the character of Edna. She is not particularly likable, but neither are any of the other characters in this book. She is an unhappy woman who does not like society's rules. She has very few options and makes a lot of blunders along the way. The book really resonated with me at this time in my life and also at this time in our social and political climate. I'm so glad I re-read this!
Top reviews from other countries
Why is it that, although written in the 1800's, that The Awakening is still relevant today? The protagonist, Edna Pontellier, speaks of how a woman is expected to give herself up for her children, and rages against this notion. Today, we still speak of women in terms of their relationship to other people (mother, grandmother, wife, sister). Think of the headlines involving women: "Mother, 35, eats ice cream at the park!" "Wife of celebrated politician wears leopard print dress to charity ball!" It's quite ridiculous, isn't it? And yet we are still subjected to this form of sexism, sometimes without even noticing.
Edna's lover, Robert, mentions dreaming that Edna's husband would free her, give her up, for Robert to have:
"You have been a very, very foolish boy, wasting your time dreaming of impossible things when you speak of Mr. Pontellier setting me free! I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier's possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, 'here, Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours,' I should laugh at you both."
Many people, even in apparent forward-thinking cultures, still believe that women are property. If challenged, they may deny it, but you only have to speak to a group of people about a woman keeping her own surname upon marriage, or the husband taking his wife's surname, to discover just how backwards their views actually are. I kept my surname upon marriage, yet I have received negative comments from several places - not just online trolls, but members of my own and my husband's family. I have even broken ties with some family members because of their downright nasty response to my decision. How ridiculous that, in this day and age, some people feel so strongly about what is and isn't acceptable for a woman to do.
The Awakening, with its incredibly apt title, is a great read. It's wonderfully written, and very enjoyable. If you're participating with Feminist February, this is an excellent book to pop on your list. Actually, even if you're not participating, you should read this book.
The book is 220 pages split into 39 chapters. Also worth noting that this version uses a fairly large font and has notes on the pages so no searching at the back of the book.
There is a brief introduction to the author but no detailed analysis of the novel. This was very pleasing as I really love to read a classic novel without having been told how I should be enjoying it.
The plot is great - it deals with society, class, feminism, expectations, marriage, motherhood and many other issues. All wrapped together with many small vignettes of moments in time. This author was primarily a short story writer and this becomes very clear when reading this book as you can see that many of the small chapters could almost stand alone as short stories.
Edna is wonderful as a heroine, she is full of flaws but manages to hold herself above the other characters whilst not being afraid to display her weaknesses.
It's a complex situation and there are some huge decisions to be made. Kate Chopin shows the reader what is happening without ever judging the characters or patronising the reader. The reader can judge Edna but such judgements would be foolish without taking time to try to understand her.
This tale is still very relevant today although it not as shocking as it probably was in 1899.
Edna's initial unconscious ambivalence is gradually replaced by jet knowledge of what she does and doesn't want from life.
Not to sacrifice oneself... easier said than done!
It opens with Madame Edna Pontellier vacationing along with a host of other French Creole families. Edna’s great friend is Madame Adele Ratignolle but she is being languidly wooed by Robert, although of course nobody ever takes Robert’s attentions seriously. Leonce Pontellier is vaguely dissatisfied with his wife and feels she is insufficiently attentive. Predictably, Edna falls in love with Robert and is silently aghast when Robert decides to leave, recognising that the relationship is doomed. Adele Ratignolle is the perfect nineteenth century woman, adoring her husband and children and she chides Edna gently about her duties but Edna is awakening. Far beyond her desire for Robert, she wishes for more. She wishes for herself.
I struggled to connect with this novel. The prose is beautiful, the writing dream-like and the subject matter is one that fascinates me. I think that it was Oscar Wilde who said that in falling in love with one’s self, it was the beginning of a lifelong romance. Yet it is also a difficult relationship for an outsider to understand. There is a lot going on with Edna internally but she is a mystery to those around her and I never felt as if she quite engaged me as a character even though I felt for her predicament. When the wives are discussing the lengths they would be prepared to go to for their children, Edna remarks that she would be willing to lay down her life for her children but not her self. It is a fascinating thought – even now society expects parents to sacrifice everything for their young. One stops being a one and rather considering the individual’s wants, desires and cravings, the children must come first. Yet, is it really so unreasonable to wish to keep your own sense of self intact?
Edna paints, ignores her husband and sets up her own house outside the marital home – she blossoms. Yet, does this actually improve her situation? Does turning away from her lukewarm marriage give her a better life? Earlier this year, a character in The Archers discovered her husband’s infidelity. Having listened to said soap opera since 1991, the Tuckers feel like family members and I commented to my mother gloomily that a divorce would only make Hayley’s situation harder because her life was intertwined with her husband’s family. In becoming Madame Pontellier, Edna has bartered away too much and there is something so bleak about this that I found it hard to warm to the novel as a whole. The Awakening felt a little too poetic – or even like a story at the centre of a ballet, graceful and beautiful but somehow cold and without passion.