The Awakening, and Other Stories

By Kate Chopin; Pamela Knights | Go to book overview

APPENDIX
Louisiana Observed: Regional Writing and Kate Chopin's People and Languages

In the revival of Chopin's reputation, many critics have chosen to downplay her associations with nineteenth-century regional writing. New readers, however, often inquire about these very elements, which can be particularly striking, even baffling, at first encounter.

Chopin's Louisianastories tap into a rich vein of interest in southern people and places, exploited in literature, journalism, and travel-writing from the end of the Civil War onwards, waning to some extent by the midnineties. As Alcée Fortier wrote in 1891,'Everything concerning French Louisiana seems at this time to possess an interest for the public' (' "The Acadians of Louisiana and their Dialect"', PMLA 6:1 ( 1891), 64). In New Orleans itself, promotional literature for the Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884 played on romanticized images of Louisiana, as the city turned to advantage its unique differences from the rest of the nation. The colourful social geographies of New Orleans, the mysterious Gulf Coast, comparisons between Creoles and Americans, accounts of the Creole woman, comments on patois, descriptions of the Acadian way of life, all became standard features, repeated from text to text often in nearidentical phrasing. Writing by outsiders varied in tone, however, from the openly patronizing to the sympathetic and excited. (One of the most notable commentators was Chopin's exact contemporary, the versatile Lafcadio Hearn ( 1850-1904), a British-Irish/Greek-born cosmopolitan, later a Japanese subject, whose lyrical prose-poems and down-to-earth observations of everyday New Orleans life contributed much to positive constructions of the city. His romantic images of the Gulf in Chita may also have influenced Chopin.) Southerners themselves frequently took up similar tropes, but some were more vigorously defensive. The work of George Washington Cable ( 1844-1925), which for many came quintessentially to define the old regime, caused offence among the Creoles of his native New Orleans. Cable drew heavily on the standard History of Louisiana( 1879) by Judge Charles Gayarré ( 1805-1895), which represented French Louisiana culture as the summit of civilization. His own work was more critical, hinting at the oppression and embedded racial injustices of that society. His Old Creole Days ( 1879), The Grandissimes ( 1880), and his articles in national periodicals such as the Century were received with enthusiasm in the North, as stories of a fascinating and exotic foreign realm. But they were deemed by many locals to portray the Creoles as a

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The Awakening, and Other Stories
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Awakening and Other Stories i
  • Oxford World''s Classics ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Note on the Texts xliv
  • Select Bibilography xlix
  • A Chronology of Kate Chopin lvi
  • The Awakening 3
  • Wiser Than a God 129
  • A Point at Issue! 139
  • The Maid of Saint Phillippe 156
  • Doctor Chevalier''s Lie 164
  • Beyond the Bayou 166
  • Old Aunt Peggy 173
  • Ripe Figs 174
  • Miss McEnders 175
  • At the ''Cadian Ball 183
  • The Father of Désirée''s Baby 193
  • Caline 199
  • A Matter of Prejudice 202
  • Azélie 209
  • A Lady of Bayou St. John 218
  • Tonie 229
  • A Gentleman of Bayou Teche 240
  • In Sabine 246
  • A Respectable Woman 255
  • The Dream of an Hour 259
  • Lilacs 262
  • Regret 274
  • The Kiss 278
  • Her Letters 281
  • Athénaïse 289
  • The Unexpected 320
  • Vagabonds 324
  • A Pair of Silk Stockings 327
  • An Egyptian Cigarette 332
  • Elizabeth Stock''s One Story 336
  • The Storm a Sequel to "The''Cadian Ball" 342
  • Appendix - Louisiana Observed- Regional Writing and Kate Chopin''s People and Languages 348
  • Explanatory Notes 360
  • Glossary 408
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