Author Chopin Honored for Book Now a Century Old: Novel Scandalized Northern Louisiana

By Buckman, Robert | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 25, 1999 | Go to article overview

Author Chopin Honored for Book Now a Century Old: Novel Scandalized Northern Louisiana


Buckman, Robert, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


CLOUTIERVILLE, La. - About 40 people traveled to this tiny north-central Louisiana village Sunday to dedicate the Kate Chopin House museum, a landmark in American women's literature.

One hundred years ago this year, Chopin, already known for her short stories set in Louisiana's Cane River plantation country, published her novel "The Awakening," the story of a young married woman's emotional discovery of her unfolding sexuality.

By today's standards, "The Awakening," which is still in print in paperback and popular in high school and college English classes, is quite tame. There are no passionate, bodice-ripping love scenes. But in 1899, male and female critics alike overwhelmingly denounced the book and its author for subtly suggesting that a woman may be sexually attracted to a man other than her husband.

"It isn't a steamy novel today but it was in 1899," said Marian Nesom, a retired English professor at Northwestern University of Louisiana in nearby Natchitoches. She spearheaded the effort to preserve and restore the house where Chopin lived from 1879-1884. "We had to develop as a culture before we could accept that sort of thing."

Today, the book is regarded as the first feminist novel, one which played a role in the women's movement of the 1960s and '70s. Until then, it was still something of a literary outcast. So was the sophisticated author when she lived with her husband and six children in this tiny town, just off modern Interstate 49 between Alexandria and Natchitoches. The antebellum house where they lived has been open to the public since 1965 as the Bayou Folk Museum, named for one of her short story collections. Now that it is on the National Historic Register, it has been rededicated as the Kate Chopin House. Among the women put off by Chopin's flouting of local conventions was the grandmother of Amanda Chennault, the museum's resident curator.

"I remember my grandmother talking about `that naughty lady,' " Miss Chennault said. "I was in high school when I learned that that very naughty lady wrote a very naughty book. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it! I read it from cover to cover. It really shocked me that this was the Kate Chopin I had heard about."

Miss Chennault, a first cousin once removed of legendary Flying Tigers commander Claire Chennault, a major general who also grew up near here, explained that she later had to read "The Awakening" again "to learn about the time in which she lived." That time was the Victorian era.

Kate Chopin was born Kate Flaherty in St. Louis in 1851, daughter of an Irish immigrant who had become a railroad tycoon. In 1870, she married Oscar Chopin, a wealthy New Orleans Creole, and settled there with him. When Oscar Chopin went bankrupt in 1879, they moved to Cloutierville (pronounced CLOO-chee-ville) to manage his family's cotton plantation business, but Kate Chopin brought her New Orleans lifestyle with her and soon became a local iconoclast.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Author Chopin Honored for Book Now a Century Old: Novel Scandalized Northern Louisiana
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.