Kate Chopin was born Kate O'Flaherty, of Irish-French-Creole descent. At 19, she married the Creole plantation owner Oscar Chopin and moved with him to Louisiana, living part of the time in New Orleans. Theirs was a blissfully happy union, and when her husband died prematurely in 1883, Kate Chopin, with their six children, moved back to St. Louis where she remained for the rest of her life. Chopin studied the piano and had a strong interest in music, but she was highly praised and immensely popular as a writer of "regional" short stories about Louisiana. When THE AWAKENING appeared, however, she was vilified by critics and deserted by her public because of the novel's sexual frankness. Chopin died in 1904 of a cerebral hemorrhage after a visit to the St. Louis World's Fair.
"It is uncanny, nothing else...a masterpiece."
"It was not necessary for a writer of so great refinement and poetic grace to enter the over-worked world of sex-fiction...This is not a pleasant story."
"A Creole 'Bovary' is this little novel...and I shall not attempt to say why Miss Chopin has devoted so exquisite and sensitive, well-governed a style to so trite and sordid a theme."
"'The Awakening' seems to me to be the finest novel of its sort written by an American, and to rank among the world's masterpieces of short fiction."
"Denounced at the time of its original publication in 1899, and out of print for decades, 'The Awakening' is an American masterpiece: the brilliantly conceived story of a woman's 'awakening' to erotic love, and to her predicament in a patriarchal society."
"A Creole Bovery is this little novel of Miss Chopin's."
From the Publisher
A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and over: "Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That's all right!"
Kate Chopin's novel is a probing psychological study of a woman who, oppressed by family life and her romantic difficulties, drowns herself in the ocean. It is also an examination of a particular culture at the end of the 19th century: the aristocratic society of southern Louisiana. Condemned at the time it was written, THE AWAKENING has been valued in later years for its unflinching honesty and sexual frankness.