Although she enjoyed only modest success during her lifetime, Kate Chopin is now recognised as a unique voice in American literature. Her seminal novel, The Awakening, published in 1899, explored new and startling territory, and stunned readers with its frank depiction of the limits of marriage and motherhood. Chopin's aesthetic tastes and cultural influences were drawn from both the European and American traditions, and her manipulation of her 'foreignness' contributed to the composition of a complex voice that was strikingly different to that of her contemporaries. The essays in this Companion treat a wide range of Chopin's stories and novels, drawing her relationship with other writers, genres and literary developments, and pay close attention to the transatlantic dimension of her work. The result is a collection that brings a fresh perspective to Chopin's writing, one that will appeal to researchers and students of American, nineteenth-century, and feminist literature.
Chronology; Introduction Janet Beer; 1. What we do and don't know about Kate Chopin's life Emily Toth; 2. At Fault: a reappraisal of Kate Chopin's other novel Donna Campbell; 3. Kate Chopin and the subject of childhood Pamela Knights; 4. 'Race' and ethnicity in Kate Chopin's fiction Susan Castillo; 5. Kate Chopin on fashion in a Darwinian world Katherine Joslin; 6. The Awakening and New Woman fiction Ann Heilmann; 7. Reading Kate Chopin through contemporary French feminist theory Michael Worton; 8. The Awakening as literary innovation: Chopin, Maupassant and the evolution of genre Elizabeth Nolan; 9. Kate Chopin, choice and modernism Avril Horner; 10. Kate Chopin and post-colonial New Orleans Helen Taylor; 11. The Awakening: the first hundred years Bernard Koloski; Guide to further reading; Index.
"Kate Chopin aficionados will find this volume refreshing in its breadth. While The Awakening is given due treatment, Chopin's novel At Fault and many of her lesser-known short stories are given primacy...Koloski extracts the pith and proffers the expanse of Chopin's literary journey....The book's cover art, Rodin's La Danaide, captures one of Chopin's pivotal themes: the female body exhausted by endless and futile effort. Likewise, some readers might concede that after birthing a bounty of fiction, Chopin was exhausted, and it became evident; her later literary offspring are beyond the ken of her contemporaries and unwelcomed as "illegitimate." The vitality of her recovered and adopted work, however, mandates the sort of solid and searching scholarship Beer has brought together here."
-Donna Decker, Franklin Pierce University, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, 2010