A Vocation and a Voice

A Vocation and a Voice

Paperback Penguin Classics

By (author) Kate Chopin, Volume editor Emily Toth, Introduction by Emily Toth

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 197mm x 12mm | 179g
  • Publication date: 30 May 1991
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0140390782
  • ISBN 13: 9780140390780
  • Sales rank: 1,511,463

Product description

First published in 1899, this beautiful, brief novel so disturbed critics and the public that it was banished for decades afterward. Now widely read and admired, "The Awakening" has been hailed as an early vision of woman's emancipation. This sensuous book tells of a woman's abandonment of her family, her seduction, and her awakening to desires and passions that threated to consumer her. Originally entitled "A Solitary Soul, " this portrait of twenty-eight-year-old Edna Pontellier is a landmark in American fiction, rooted firmly in the romantic tradition of Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson. Here, a woman in search of self-discovery turns away from convention and society, and toward the primal, from convention and society, and toward the primal, irresistibly attracted to nature and the senses "The Awakening," Kate Chopin's last novel, has been praised by Edmund Wilson as "beautifully written." And Willa Cather described its style as "exquisite, " "sensitive, " and "iridescent." This edition of "The Awakening" also includes a selection of short stories by Kate Chopin. "This seems to me a higher order of feminism than repeating the story of woman as victim... Kate Chopin gives her female protagonist the central role, normally reserved for Man, in a meditation on identity and culture, consciousness and art." -- From the introduction by Marilynne Robinson.

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Author information

Kate Chopin (1850-1904) was born in St. Louis. She moved to Louisiana where she wrote two novels and numerous stories. Because The Awakening was widely condemned, publication of Chopin's third story collection was cancelled. The Awakening was rediscovered by scholars in the 1960s and 1970s and is her best-known work.

Editorial reviews

An intriguing collection of stories by the author of The Awakening (see Toth's biography of Chopin on p. 1447) - a book that so appalled her public that her publisher cancelled the collection she called A Vocation and a Voice in 1899. So here, for the first time, are those stories, which document Chopin's talents for florid emotionalism and lively dialect, as well as her eccentricities - though it should be noted that some of the entries have previously been anthologized. The title tale chronicles a young man's coming of age as he wanders around the South with a fortuneteller named Suzima, "The Egyptian Maid," who introduces him to sex. In Chopin's hands, eros is inextricably bound up with the boy's love of nature, though he eventually shakes himself free from the woman and joins a religious order, erecting a wall around himself which cannot quite keep out the cajoling sound of Suzima's voice. In this and other stories, Chopin's endings are so vague as to seem hieroglyphic. Sometimes, though, she attempts to imitate her favorite writer, Maupassant, producing bracing final twists, as in "The Story of an Hour," about a woman who receives the news that her husband has died with unadulterated joy, only to have him walk through the door minutes later. Chopin indulges her penchant for thick emotionalism - which becomes on occasion grotesque - in pieces like "Her Letters," and her irrepressible desire to shock in obliquely tackling subjects like lesbianism and hashish smoking. An indispensable addition to the slim Chopin oeuvre. The collection doesn't establish her as a major short-story writer, but it does illuminate the mind that produced The Awakening - and is interesting, too, as a literary artifact, since here Chopin spins out dreams the last century couldn't tolerate. (Kirkus Reviews)