In June, Books Abroad will step back into a historical piece of feminism, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. First published in 1899, this novel presents the intellectual and sexual awakening of Edna Pontellier, an affluent, married white woman with two children. After years of succumbing to the limited social expectations for women, Edna expresses a profound dissatisfaction with her life and begins to defy those boundaries. Sixty years after The Awakening was published, Betty Friedan famously called the feeling Edna describes as "the problem that has no name." Despite the turn-of-the-century setting in the Louisiana coast, it doesn’t take much imagination to see the unfortunate and stark resemblances between Edna’s cultural context and that of the feminist awakenings in the 1960s and our current cultural moment. As Barbara Kingsolver writes in her review in The Guardian, “I wish I could declare The Awakening a period piece, but Chopin's social analysis still hits its mark.” Chopin’s novel asks the uncomfortable question: How does a capacious, sapient human reconcile her existence with a world that pervasively tells her: you are less. We’re still asking this question.
We invite you to join the Books Abroad international feminist reading group on Sunday, June 9, at 7:30 a.m. EDT for a discussion about this landmark piece of literary fiction.
Books Abroad brings readers across the globe together to discuss works of feminist literature and their relevance to current events in the United States. We meet via WebEx roughly once every three months. So far, this group has read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Rebecca Solnit’s The Mother of All Questions, and Roxane Gay’s Not That Bad. We look forward to our upcoming discussion and welcome suggestions for future readings.
First St SE
Washington , DC 20004
Google map and directions