Tag Archives: classic

the awakening kate chopin

Book Review: The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

According to Amazon, I bought this copy of Kate Chopin’s classic The Awakening on my birthday in 2013. So, it’s sat in my Kindle Cloud for a little while, awaiting some attention. I read it now as part of my Awakening Challenge, in which I set out to read eight books titled Awakening/The Awakening.the awakening kate chopin

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is a novel set in New Orleans and the Louisiana coast at the end of the nineteenth century. The story centers around Edna Pontellier and her struggle to reconcile her unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the South.

 my review

Meh, I expected a lot more. I intensely related to her feelings on children and motherhood. I also appreciate, that as a woman of the time, she was constrained in a myriad of ways. But I didn’t find in the story the deep, meaningfulness I thought I would. I, instead, found a dissatisfied woman looking to have an affair…or leave her husband for another man. I don’t find that particularly feminist or radical. Her desire to be alone (in the absence of Robert) felt a lot more interesting and I would have rathered that have been the focus.

Having said all that, I do acknowledge that the book was published in 1899. My reaction could be a modern woman’s reading of the text, instead of a true consideration of how it might have been received at the time it was written. I fully accept that if I’d read this with an eye toward critical analysis (like I would have at university), I’d probably say different, more contextual things about the book. As it is, I simply read it as a reader, with little complex consideration. But here’s an essayist from the New York Times doing a far better job of it that I ever could have. And don’t I feel a burke, having missed so much.

the awakening

The Left Hand of Darkness

Book Review of The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin

I have owned this copy of Ursula K. Le Guin‘s The Left Hand of Darkness for years. One would presume I bought it at some point.

Description from Goodreads:
On the planet Winter, there is no gender. The Gethenians can become male or female during each mating cycle, and this is something that humans find incomprehensible.

The Ekumen of Known Worlds has sent an ethnologist to study the Gethenians on their forbidding, ice-bound world. At first he finds his subjects difficult and off-putting, with their elaborate social systems and alien minds. But in the course of a long journey across the ice, he reaches an understanding with one of the Gethenians — it might even be a kind of love.

This is one of those books that is more a thought experiment than an actual reading experience. I can’t say I’m sad to have read it—especially now, so soon after Le Guin’s death—but I’ll say I’m glad to have read it, to be done reading it. As interesting as it was, I was bored for almost all of it. The world was breathtakingly described and, again, the moral and social implications of the Emissary’s circumstances were interesting, but the whole thing was soooo slow and indirect. Plus, while I understand the book was published in 1969 and therefore a product of it’s time, I was uncomfortable with the way women were positioned and described. All in all, I think of this much like I do Moby Dick. I’m glad to tick it off my list off books I’ve meant to read, but didn’t enjoy it all that much, though I can appreciate it’s worth.

Book Review: White Stains, by Anaïs Nin

white stains coverAbout the book:
A lost classic of 1940s erotica returns! Written by Anas Nin, Virginia Admiral, Caresse Crosby, and others for a dollar per page, this breathtakingly sensual volume was printed privately and soon became an underground legend. Beginning with a breathless mnage quatre in Alice and ending with the concluding remarks of the uproarious Loves Encyclopaedia, this is a priceless collection of explicit yet sophisticated musings.

I read about half of this. I made it through the stories, but I just couldn’t with the Encyclopedia of Sex.

While I thought the writing was wretched, it is from the 40s, and maybe that was how erotica was written at the time. What do I know? I could see of the language as precursors to some of the super-cheese I still see in the occasional bodice ripper, but can’t say I enjoyed it here any more than I do in more modern works (less even).

I was also repeatedly dismayed at the stories themselves. We have a 5yo boy being molested. We have a woman being drugged and raped, then taken advantage of by a second man. We have numerous men getting women drunk to take advantage of them and we have a married woman in an orgy with not-her-husband (though that was the least eyebrow-raising one of the bunch). Plus, with the exception of the orgy, every sex scene is essentially the same. Nope, none of them tickled my fancy in the least.

I don’t think anyone believes Anaïs Nin wrote this. I know if thought this was a representation of her work I’d never pick another one up.