Now recognised as a pioneering exploration of gender freedom, from an era when female agency was rare and shocking.
Written in the late Victorian era, The Awakening features a young woman who flings aside the norms of society and rejects her role as wife and mother. She abandons her family for a hedonistic and contrarian lifestyle before eventually committing suicide. The novel deals with the issues of interracial marriage and contains passages of overt sexuality, both of which contributed to the widespread outcry upon its original publication in 1899. Today it is seen as a portent of the future and admired for its direct and naturalistic style.
Flame Tree 451 presents a new series, The Foundations of Feminist Fiction. The early 1900s saw a quiet revolution in literature previously dominated by male adventure heroes. Both men and women moved beyond the norms of the male gaze to write from a different gender perspective, sometimes with female protagonists, but also expressing the universal freedom to write on any subject whatsoever. Each book features a brand new biography and a glossary of literary terms.
Kate Chopin, born Katherine O’Flaherty (1851–1904) was an American novelist and short-story writer and an advocate of New Orleans life and culture. After her husband died in 1882, she began to write about the people of the South. Her first novel was At Fault (1890), but she wrote over 100 short stories, including 'Désirée’s Baby' and 'Madame Celestin’s Divorce'. Her preoccupation with the freedom of women laid the foundations for feminist literature of later generations.