First published in 1899, The Awakening's engagement with taboo issues of female sexuality and infidelity prompted a flurry of damning reviews that sent the book out of print and into obscurity for several decades. However, it is now hailed as a key early feminist text and has become one of the most widely studied works of American literature. This Sourcebook combines accessible commentary with reprinted documents to provide the ideal introduction to the novel. Its first section, 'Contexts' provides biographical information on Chopin and explores 1890s American society to reveal the contextual backdrop to her work. The editors pay particular attention to Chopin's Louisiana Creole heritage and to the expectations of women in this era. 'Interpretations' begins with an overview of the critical reception of the novel and then introduces extracts from important early reviews and contemporary criticism. Readers are carefully guided through a range of crucial issues from Chopin's treatment of female sexuality to the influence of Darwinism on her writing. The following section, 'Key Passages', reproduces selected chapters of the original text, along with extensive commentary. These commenta
Janet Beer is Professor of English, and Dean and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, at Manchester Metropolitan University. Elizabeth Nolan is Associate Lecturer in the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University.