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The Awakening (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – September 17, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0393960570 ISBN-10: 0393960579 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2nd edition (September 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393960579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393960570
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (542 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This gorgeous edition of Chopin's 1899 classic features period photos of the novel's New Orleans location and a durable plastic dust jacket.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

""Shelly Frasier's reading is thick with languor and sensuality as she creates an Edna who feels all but physically present.""---AudioFile
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

This book seemed boring and slow.
Cassandra Violette
This novel gave true insight into the feelings of women at the time.
"kckvc4"
I read this book for a school assignment and I love it.
Kate

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

171 of 189 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on December 27, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Thank you to all my reading friends who suggested The Awakening as one of their favorite classic novels! I have been trying to branch out into new literary worlds, and the classics is one genre that I hadn't yet touched. Still a novice, but my journey has been so profitable thus far. The Awakening was one novel that is incredibly easy to read and holds such powerful prose in so few pages.
A taboo subject back in its day, The Awakening tells the story of one woman's emotional journey from a stifled, miserable marriage to a spirited and lusty freedom. Young Edna Pontellier feels trapped in a loveless, although pampered, life with husband, Leonce. Stirrings of independence begin one summer while resorting in Grand Isle, an island off the coast of Louisiana. These new feelings have begun a profound change in Edna, liberating her beyond belief. Thus ensues an infidelity that dreams are made of, although at the expense of her marriage and motherhood.
Hardly shocking in this day and age, The Awakening's subject of marital infidelity and physical lust for another is always a pageturner. The theme of the novel -- Edna's torment at the chains that bind her and the flutterings of an unbridled passion -- is brought to life with beautiful writing in simple, elegant words. I am surprised to find such a passionate and provocative story within its pages. Short but penetrating, The Awakening will move you.
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By spacellama on April 1, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Note: I do not believe that The Awakening is the sort of novel that relies on plot twists and surprises. It's *how* the story unfolds rather than *what happens* that is important. However, several folks have claimed that they needed a spoiler warning, so here it is: You have been warned.

Kate Chopin wrote this story of female self-actualization back in the late 19th century, but it's as applicable today as it was then. I think we all feel trapped by decisions we've made capriciously or because we've been told they are correct, and we all consider, even briefly, escape. The main character in this novel not only realizes that she has trapped herself, but she actively seeks to free herself. Her action, rather than just emotion and despair (a la Goethe), is what separates her from the herd.

Here's the low-down: Edna is a woman, probably in her 30s or so, married to a successful financier and mother to two charming children. She summers on an island, probably to escape summer diseases in the city, New Orleans. One summer she acquires a friend, Robert. Although married women in this society frequently have male friends, Edna is an outsider, and she takes Robert's attentions far too seriously. Apparently, he is similarly infatuated. Basking in Robert's attention, Edna understands at last that she has discarded her youthful dreams and hopes and that her current life is unfulfilling. She takes small steps toward freeing herself, and Robert seems a willing accomplice for a while.

During the course of the novel, Edna relearns who she is, reclaims the dreams of her youth, and abandons her husband and children. The author is careful with this last, making it seem tragic and irresponsible, yet ultimately unavoidable. By the last 20 pages, Edna is free.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan J. Casey on December 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" is the classic novel about women that "Madame Bovary" purports to be but isn't. It's not just a "woman's" novel, though, it perfectly (and poetically) captures the inner life of a solitary person who is forced to live for the sake of others. And while this has been a distinctly female position for a large part of Western history, it is a position that can be identified with by just about anyone in our current age of employee internet-use monitoring. This is a twentieth-century tale of discomfort with and reaction to antagonistic surroundings. For those of us who don't feel the need to procreate in an overpopulated world, Edna's (and presumably Chopin's) discomfort with children will make sense. For those of us who may not always know exactly what we want out of life, this story will strike a chord.
Kate Chopin's writing is deliberate but not labored. She is particularly successful at depicting ambiguity in a way which is highly descriptive and communicative. This is a skill which I can't praise highly enough, and it culminates in an ending which is absolutely perfect. While criticism could be raised against "The Awakening" as another apology for the suicidal artist, Edna's literal and symbolic escape is less pretentious than Harry's in "Steppenwolfe," nor as indecipherable as that of any of Joyce's creations. Kate Chopin's novel is truly a classic in the sense that it should be a part of any survey of American literature. The Norton Critical edition is the best way to go, too, with helpful biographical information and literary criticism. If you want a more enriching experience with this novel, I'd highly recommend this version.
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73 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Deborah J. Plifka on June 19, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Though at one time I, too, would have rated "The Awakening" one of the worst reads of a lifetime--for its predictability in the context of a woman oppressed by Victorian society, and the most undeveloped, unsympathetic heroine for whom I was unable to muster the slightest emotional investment--a nagging, relentless undercurrent of something I couldn't quite identify festered long inside me regarding this novel until the story, and author, were at last redeemed upon my third reading, in a literature course that finally ended this internal struggle.
Having much faith in Kate Chopin as a writer, I never felt 'the awakening' was about sex. This was too easy, even for a book set in Victorian Society. Further, it occurred to me that although women were limited beyond the domestic sphere in this era, suicide was not particular to the phenomenology of Victorian women (as it was, say, to Wall Street brokers at the onset of the Great Depression).
"The Awakening," in title and content, is irony. Edna Pontellier's awakening is about who she perceives herself to be, and who she actually is. She dreams of passion and romance and embarks on a summer affair, yet she married Leonce simply to spite her parents, who don't like him. She moves out of the family home to live on her own--with the permission, and resources, of Leonce--hardly independent. She claims to crave intimacy, yet she fails horribly at every intimate relationship in her life: she is detached with her children, indifferent to her husband, leery of her artist friend, and can hardly stand another minute at the bedside of her warm, maternal friend, Mrs. Ratignolle, to assist her in childbirth. (Ratignolle was my favorite character of all, read after read, simply because she was so content with herself.
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