Kate Chopin Publishes "The Awakening"
The Awakening is a novel by Kate Chopin, first published in 1899 (see 1899 in literature). Set in New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the nineteenth century, the plot centers on Edna Pontellier and her struggle to reconcile her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century South. It is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women's issues without condescension. It is also one of the most important novels written by an American woman in the nineteenth century (perhaps second only to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin in terms of historical and social significance). When published it was assailed for its frank depictions of female sexuality but has since been cited by critics and scholars as one of the most influential American novels ever written. It is also widely seen as a landmark work of early feminism.
The novel's blend of realistic narrative, incisive social commentary, and psychological complexity makes The Awakening a precursor of American modernism and prefigures the works of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway and echoes the works of contemporaries such as Edith Wharton and Henry James. It can also be considered among the first Southern works in a tradition that would culminate with the modern masterpieces of Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Katherine Anne Porter, and Tennessee Williams.