Suzanne Disheroon Green
The recovery of Kate Chopin's writings in the late twentieth century marks the beginning of a success story to which many of her contemporaries, whose works have been relegated to lonely archives, might aspire. Chopin's status was long reduced to that of marginalized female local colorist, with only two or three of her stories occasionally appearing in anthologies. She now holds a secure position in the canon that is arguably equivalent to nineteenth century writers of the stature of Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Emily Dickinson. The result of this rekindled attention to Chopin's work is that a great deal of scholarly interest has focused on this remarkable writer. The magnitude of this interest has created the need for a volume such as the one you presently hold in your hands.
Before delving into the wealth of critical study detailed in this book, it is useful to consider the scope of these studies. What are the recent critical conversations that surround Chopin's work? How do these conversations inform our reading of Chopin's texts? What work remains to be done? This volume addresses critical studies undertaken between 1976 and 1998 -- as well as forthcoming publications for 1999 that were available as we went to press in late 1998 -- as studies prior to this time period are covered by Marlene Springer 1976 volume Edith Wharton and Kate Chopin: A Reference Guide. Since the appearance of Springer's bibliography, the critical study of Chopin's work has largely evolved into four categories. These categories include: (1) biographical studies; (2) "ism" studies -- scholarly endeavors which argue for the placement of Chopin's work within literary movements such as Naturalism, Realism, or Modernism; (3) studies