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A Note on Kate Chopin's The Awakening as Naturalistic Fiction

A Note on Kate Chopin's The Awakening as Naturalistic Fiction A Note on Kate Chopin's by Donald Pizer Kate Chopin's The Awakening has become, over the last forty years, one of the most thoroughly examined novels in the American canon. In recent decades in particular, as evidenced by the character of the essays collected by Wendy Martin in New Essays on The Awakening and by Nancy Walker in her Bedford Books edition of the novel, it has increasingly been subjected to the heavy artillery of theoretical and cultural analyses. I wish, in this brief essay, to suggest the need in any account of the work to keep to the forefront what I will call its "plain meaning"-- that is, the central and powerfully depicted themes which arise out of the relationship of the novel to literary naturalism, the principal innovative movement in American fiction of the 1890s. 1 Like her near-contemporary Edith Wharton, Chopin was deeply responsive during the period just prior to her undertaking a literary career to the major new ideas and fiction of her time, reading fully in Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and the French naturalists (Seyersted 49, 85). And although she never set her fiction within the brutish and sordid urban working class world http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

A Note on Kate Chopin's The Awakening as Naturalistic Fiction

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 33 (2) – Jun 1, 2001

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2001 Department of English of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
ISSN
1534-1461
Publisher site
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Abstract

A Note on Kate Chopin's by Donald Pizer Kate Chopin's The Awakening has become, over the last forty years, one of the most thoroughly examined novels in the American canon. In recent decades in particular, as evidenced by the character of the essays collected by Wendy Martin in New Essays on The Awakening and by Nancy Walker in her Bedford Books edition of the novel, it has increasingly been subjected to the heavy artillery of theoretical and cultural analyses. I wish, in this brief essay, to suggest the need in any account of the work to keep to the forefront what I will call its "plain meaning"-- that is, the central and powerfully depicted themes which arise out of the relationship of the novel to literary naturalism, the principal innovative movement in American fiction of the 1890s. 1 Like her near-contemporary Edith Wharton, Chopin was deeply responsive during the period just prior to her undertaking a literary career to the major new ideas and fiction of her time, reading fully in Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and the French naturalists (Seyersted 49, 85). And although she never set her fiction within the brutish and sordid urban working class world

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jun 1, 2001

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