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  • Published: 30 September 2002
  • ISBN: 9781931082211
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1075
  • RRP: $67.99

Kate Chopin

Complete Novels and Stories (LOA #136)



From ruined Louisiana plantations to bustling, cosmopolitan New Orleans, Kate Chopin wrote with unflinching honesty about propriety and its strictures, the illusions of love and the realities of marriage, and the persistence of a past scarred by slavery and war. Her stories of fiercely independent women challenged contemporary mores as much by their sensuousness as their politics, and today seem decades ahead of their time. Now, The Library of America collects all of Chopin’s novels and stories as never before in one authoritative volume.

The explosive novel At Fault (1890) centers on a love triangle between a strong-willed young widow, a stiff St. Louis businessman, and the man’s alcoholic wife. In the two story collections Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897), Chopin transforms the popular local color sketch into taut, perfectly calibrated tales that portray Louisiana bayou cultures with sympathetic insight and an eye to the unresolved conflicts of a South reeling from the Civil War.

In The Awakening (1899), the novel that scandalized many of her contemporaries and effectively ended her public career as a writer, Chopin tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a restless, unsatisfied woman who embarks on a quixotic search for fulfillment. Rendered with masterful precision, detachment, and a suggestive ambiguity that defies easy judgments about Edna’s actions, The Awakening is the novel that restored Chopin to literary prominence after its rediscovery by critics in the 1960s and 1970s.

The volume also includes all the stories not collected by Chopin, including those meant for A Vocation and a Voice, a projected volume that her publisher canceled in 1900; stories that Chopin never tried to publish, such as the erotically daring “The Storm”; and “Ti Frère,” “A Horse Story,” and “Alexandre’s Wonderful Experience,” three stories which were found in 1992 in a long-lost cache of Chopin’s papers.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

  • Published: 30 September 2002
  • ISBN: 9781931082211
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1075
  • RRP: $67.99

About the author

Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin was born in St Louis, Missouri on 8 Feb 1850. Born Katherine O'Flaherty, she grew up in a predominantly female household after her father died when she was just four years old. Her father was an Irish immigrant, and her mother was French Creole. In 1870 she married Oscar Chopin, a local cotton trader, and together they had six children. In 1882 Oscar died from swamp fever, leaving Kate a widow with a large family to support, and the heir to his sizeable debts. She turned to writing in order to support her young family, publishing her first short story in 1889. A number of her works were subsequently published in literary magazines and popular American periodicals, including Vogue. Chopin published only two novels in her lifetime: At Fault and The Awakening. The Awakening, published in 1899, was largely condemned as vulgar and immoral by critics of the time. Dismayed by such a harsh reception, Chopin cut short her brief career as a novelist, and for the remainder of her life focused solely on writing short stories, poetry and reviews. Kate Chopin died on 22 August 1904 from a brain haemorrhage.

Kate O'Flaherty was born on February 8, 1850, in St. Louis, of French and Irish ancestry. She was graduated from the St. Louis Academy of the Sacred Heart in 1868; two years later she married Oscar Chopin and went to live with him in New Orleans. They had five sons by 1878, and the following year they moved to Cloutierville, a tiny French village in Natchitoches Parish, in northwest Louisiana. There their last child and only daughter was born in 1879.

After Oscar's death in 1882, his widow ran their plantations and carried on a notorious romance with a married neighbour, but abruptly chose to return to St. Louis in 1884. Within five years she had begun her literary career, and during the next decade she published two novels - At Fault (1890) and The Awakening (1899) - and nearly a hundred short stories, poems, essays, plays and reviews.

Two volumes of short stories mostly set in the Cane River country of Louisiana, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897) were acclaimed during her lifetime. But The Awakening, the story of a woman who has desires that marriage cannot fulfil, was widely condemned, and Chopin's publisher cancelled her third short-story collection, A Vocation and a Voice. Chopin died on August 22 1904.

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Praise for Kate Chopin

“Chopin is not, and never has been, a writer who is easily summed up. Here we get everything—the complete stories and the novels—in one tidy, well-presented package… Chopin’s richness is best swallowed in great quantities, and this new edition makes that possible.” Buffalo News

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