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The Awakening shocked turn-of-the-century readers and reviewers with its treatment of sex and suicide. In a departure from literary convention, Kate Chopin failed to condemn her heroine's desire for an affair with the son of a Louisiana resort owner, whom she meets on vacation. The power of sensuality, the delusion of ecstatic love, and the solitude that accompanies the trappings of middle- and upper-class convention are the themes of this now-classic novel. The book was influenced by French writers ranging from Flaubert to Maupassant, and can be seen as a precursor of the impressionistic, mood-driven novels of Virginia Woolf and Djuna Barnes. Variously called 'vulgar,' 'unhealthily introspective,' and 'morbid,' the book was neglected for several decades, not least because it was written by a 'regional' woman writer. This edition also includes selected stories from Kate Chopin's Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie, and an introduction and notes by Nina Baym.

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