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Chopin, Kate. (1851 - 1904).

L i f e

- born Katherine O’Flaherty in a St. Louis family of high social status

- the family women pious Catholics x but: herself smoked in society and walked about without company, daring acts for her time

- married a Creole businessman >> moved New Orleans (Lousiana) = the centre of the Creole culture

- her husband failed as a businessman, and died suddenly >> returned to St. Louis, remained alone to raise her children, and earned her living by writing

W o r k

< her reading of E. Zola and G. de Maupassant, admired W. Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

< her own experience of the LA life

- author of 3 novels, over 150 short stories and sketches, poetry, and criticism

- portrayals of the Creole and Cajun life

S h o r t  S t o r i e s :

- brief, almost anecdotal x but: fresh and sincere

Bayou Folk (1894):

- won her reputation as a leading local-colourist of the Lousiana rural life

A Night in Acadie (1897):

- cemented her reputation

"A Pair of Silk Stockings"

"A Respectable Woman"

"Desiree's Baby"

"The Kiss"

"The Locket"

N o v e l s :

At Fault (1890):

- her 1st novel, published on her own expense


- her 2nd novel failed, and she destroyed it

The Awakening (1899): 

- examines the ‘new woman’s’ psychological and sexual coming to consciousness and demanding social, economic, and political equality

- contrasts the friendly, open, society loving, and articulate Creoles (Leonce, Robert) x the cold, dignified, distanced, and reserved Europeans (Edna, her father)

=> celebrates a woman’s independence, and finds the breaking of social rules an inevitable result

- found a negative response (as W. Whitman’s Leaves of Grass half a century earlier) x but: rediscovered by the feminists in 1960s

P o e t r y :

- themes of strong individual women facing the gender prejudice obstacles


(Chopin in 1894. Source: Wikipedia).

  • Author

    Born Katherine O'Flaherty. Married Chopin. Penname Kate Chopin. (1851 - 1904). American.
  • Work

    Novelist. Short story writer. Author of The Awakening (1899).
  • Genres

    Modern fiction. Feminist themes. Local colour. 


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


"Do you suppose a woman knows shy she loves? Does she select? Does she say to herself, 'Go to! here is a distinguished statesman with presidential possibilities; I shall proceed to fall in love with him.' or, 'I shall set my heart upon this musician, whose fame is on every tongue?' or 'this financier, who controls the world's money markets?'"

From The Awakening (1899).


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