Kate Chopin (1850–1904)
From Kate Chopin: Complete Novels & Stories
Kate Chopin was born on this date (February 8) in 1850.
When Edmund Wilson argued for the very concept of a “Library of America” in 1968, one of the authors he singled out for rescuing from oblivion was Kate Chopin, and—indeed—LOA published an edition of her complete novels and stories in 2002.
Many readers and students who encountered Chopin’s The Awakening during the last forty years were led to believe that the novel (as well as the author) had vanished from the American canon because it had been banned soon after publication in 1899. (A number of prominent editions still make this claim.) Yet, it turns out, there’s very little evidence the book was ever banned in the decade after it was published. Instead, after the author’s death at the age of fifty-four in 1904, it quietly went out of print, and it was “rediscovered” by scholars and critics in the early 1970s.
That’s not to say, however, that Chopin’s novel was greeted without controversy, and some of her short stories were never published at all. One of those, “Fedora,” was turned down by the national magazines that often competed for her work and only appeared in an upstart literary journal in her hometown of St. Louis. We present that story, with its provocative and ambiguous twist ending, as our Story of the Week selection.