Today, a particular memory popped up on Facebook, and I decided to transfer the post to Mallows Miscellany. The post is now removed from social media and lives here, as I will do with many other memories that arise on social media. I remember reading this book in college at SCAD one quarter during my BFA in Writing, and it moved me deeply. The course was titled “Women in Literature” or “Literature by Women.” I cannot recall, but for ten weeks, we studied, read, critiqued and wrote papers about female authors and their works of art. We had one, maybe two men, in the class. One of the authors was Kate Chopin, and now for the old post from 2017:
Kate Chopin wrote a novel called “The Awakening.” Do read it! Without any real spoilers, it’s about a woman from another century, Edna Pontellier, living in New Orleans in 1899 (other parts of the book take place in Mexico & New York City). “The Awakening is set in the late nineteenth century on Grand Isle, off the coast of Louisiana; on the island Chênière Caminada across the bay from Grand Isle (the island was destroyed) 1893 hurricane); and in the city of New Orleans. It begins on Grand Isle, shifts to New Orleans, and concludes on Grand Isle.”
Edna is coming to an awakening about the world around her. This awakening makes her feel equally alive, yet it also makes her feel deeply sad and melancholy. At a time where women had little-to-no freedoms at all—the one true freedom she possesses in life was to take an evening walk to the ocean. She loved to swim naked in the dark, returning to sunrise before her husband awoke. She has a hypnotic, intimate relationship with the sea. And she has an affair that proves to be complicated. Chopin’s book was widely hated at the time of its release. Later on, “The Awakening” became a great American classic.
A few quotes are enclosed as well as some photos of mine from the beach, a boat and a yacht, all at the Sea of Cortez. Enjoy the photos of mine from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! I apologize they are not of better quality.
“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.”
“Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.”
“The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.”
“He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”
“She was still under the spell of her infatuation. She had tried to forget him, realizing the inutility of remembering. But the thought of him was like an obsession, ever pressing itself upon her. It was not that she dwelt upon details of their acquaintance, or recalled in any special or peculiar way his personality; it was his being, his existence, which dominated her thought, fading sometimes as if it would melt into the mist of the forgotten, reviving again with an intensity which filled her with an incomprehensible longing.”
“She turned her face seaward to gather in an impression of space and solitude, which the vast expanse of water, meeting and melting with the moonlit sky, conveyed to her excited fancy. As she swam she seemed to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself.”
To learn more about Kate Chopin, please visit https://www.katechopin.org/.