Kate Chopin

Chopin, Kate O'Flaherty

Kate O'Flaherty Chopin (shō´păn´), 1851–1904, American author, b. St. Louis. Of Creole-Irish descent, she married (1870) a Louisiana businessman and lived with him in Natchitoches parish and New Orleans. In these places she acquired an intimate knowledge of Creole and Cajun life, upon which she was to draw in many of her stories. After her husband's death in 1883, she returned with their six children to St. Louis and there began to write. Two collections of tales, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897), earned her a reputation as a local colorist, but her novel The Awakening (1899) caused a storm of criticism because of its treatment of feminine sexuality. In depicting objectively a woman's confused groping toward self-understanding and self-acceptance, Chopin seemed to threaten the mores of her time although she did not explicitly attack them. Largely ignored for the next 60 years, her work is now praised for its literary merit as well as for its remarkable independence of mind and feeling.

See her complete works, ed. by P. Seyersted (2 vol., 1969) and ed. by S. M. Gilbert (2002); her private papers, ed. by E. Toth et al. (1998); T. Bonner, Jr., The Kate Chopin Companion (1988); biographies by E. Toth (1988 and 1999).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Unveiling Kate Chopin
Emily Toth.
University Press of Mississippi, 1999
The Awakening, and Other Stories
Kate Chopin; Pamela Knights.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Desiree's Baby" begins on p. 193 and "Story of an Hour" begins on p. 259
Kate Chopin's The Awakening: A Sourcebook
Janet Beer; Elizabeth Nolan.
Routledge, 2004
Reconsidering the Awakening: The Literary Sisterhood of Kate Chopin and George Egerton
Rich, Charlotte.
Southern Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 3, Spring 2003
"Her First Party" as Her Last Story: Recovering Kate Chopin's Fiction
Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, Vol. 30, No. 2, June 2013
The Descent of Love: Darwin and the Theory of Sexual Selection in American Fiction, 1871-1926
Bert Bender.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Kate Chopin's Quarrel with Darwin before The Awakening" and Chap. 8 "The Teeth of Desire: The Awakening and The Descent of Man"
"A Group of People at My Disposal": Humor in the Works of Kate Chopin
Walker, Nancy.
Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, Vol. 17, No. 1, January 2000
Kate Chopin's Narrative Techniques and Separate Space in the Awakening
Mou, Xianfeng.
The Southern Literary Journal, Vol. 44, No. 1, Fall 2011
Unruly Tongue: Identity and Voice in American Women's Writing, 1850-1930
Martha J. Cutter.
University Press of Mississippi, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Search for a Feminine Voice in the Works of Kate Chopin"
Regions of Identity: The Construction of America in Women's Fiction, 1885-1914
Kate McCullough.
Stanford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Kate Chopin and (Stretching) the Limits of Local Color Fiction"
Race, Rape, and Lynching: The Red Record of American Literature, 1890-1912
Sandra Gunning.
Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Rethinking White Female Silences: Kate Chopin's Local Color Fiction and the Politics of White Supremacy"
Kate Chopin's "One Story": Casting a Shadowy Glance on the Ethics of Regionalism
Staunton, John A.
Studies in American Fiction, Vol. 28, No. 2, Autumn 2000
Kate Chopin: An Annotated Bibliography of Critical Works
Suzanne Disheroon Green; David J. Caudle.
Greenwood Press, 1999
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