The Awakening

The publication of The Awakening in 1899 destroyed Chopin’s reputation. Prior to writing the novel, she had a strong following for her “regional literature”: short stories depicting Creole life in Louisiana. In The Awakening, Chopin tells the story of Edna Pontellier, an upper class wife and mother, who falls into a deep depression over her unsatisfactory domestic life. Edna believes that her husband and children try to “possess her, body and soul” and desires a greater sense of fulfillment, including sexual satisfaction. Critics called Chopin’s brazen condemnation of femininity “vulgar”, “unhealthy”, and unfit for publication. Because of such attitudes, the novel went out of print for many years, but feminist scholars rediscovered it in the 1970s. In recent years, writers have addressed the novel’s complex depiction of race relations and Louisiana Creole society.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:

A earlier edition of this text has been digitized and is available through the Internet Archive.

Kate Chopin (1851-1904)
The Awakening
New York: Garrett Press, 1970