kate-chopin

Kate Chopin (1850-1904) was a novelist and short story author, considered one of the forerunners of 20th century feminism, from a Southern and Catholic background. Her works often deal with issues of gender and race, both very important themes in Louisiana, where they tend to be set.

Her 1899 novel The Awakening is perhaps her best-known work, and caused significant controversy at the time of its publishing because of its female characters behaving in unconventional ways. It was rediscovered in the 1970s and celebrated as an example of female liberation.

I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe?
—  Kate Chopin

There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.

There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why—when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation.

—  Kate Chopin, The Awakening