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Kate Chopin: A Re-Awakening:Enhancements - Diary & Admirers

Diary & Admirers: Hear From Her Diary

Diary & Admirers

Hear From Her Diary

Transcript

NARRATOR: Despite all of the writing that Chopin did for her stories, she still kept a rather detailed diary. One of the entries went like this:

I have finished a story of 48-hundred words and called it "Lilacs". I cannot recall what suggested it. If the story had been written after my visit of last Sunday to the convent, I would not have to seek the impulse far. Those nuns seem to retain or gain a certain beauty with their advancing years which we women in the world are strangers to. The unchanging form of their garments through years and years seems to impart a distinct character to their bodily movements. Liza's face held a peculiar fascination for me as I sat looking into it enframed in its white rushing.

It is more than twenty years since I last saw her; but in less than 20 minutes those 20 years had vanished and she was the Liza of our school days, the same narrow, happy gray eyes with their swollen upper lids; the same delicious upward curves to the corners of her pretty mouth. No little vexatious wrinkles anywhere. Only a few good strong lines giving a touch of character that the younger Liza lacked perhaps.

The conditions under which these women live are such as keep them young and fresh in heart and in visage. One day�usually one hey-day of youth they kneel before the alter of a god whom they have learned to worship, and they give themselves wholly---body and spirit into his keeping. They have only to remain faithful through the years, these modern psyches, to the lover who lavishes all his precious gifts upon them in the darkness---the most precious of which is perpetual youth. I wonder what Liz thought as she looked into my face. I knew she was remembering my pink cheeks of more than 20 years ago and my brown hair and innocent young face. I do not know whether she could see that I had loved---lovers who were not divine---and hated and suffered and been glad.

She could see, no doubt the stamp which a thousand things had left upon my face, but she could not read it. She, with her lover in the dark. He had not anointed her eyes for perfect vision. She does not need it---in the dark.

When we came away, my friend who had gone with me said: "would you not give anything to have her vocation and happy life!" There were long beaten paths spreading before us: the grass grew along its edges and the branches of trees in their thick rich, May garb hung over the path like an arbor, making a long vista that ended in a green blur.

An old man---a plain old man leaning on a cane was walking down the path holding a small child by the hand and a little dog trotting beside them, "I would rather be the dog" I answered her.

As time passed, Chopin suffered many low points over her writing.

Diary & Admirers: Hear From Her Admirers

Diary & Admirers

Hear From Her Admirers

Transcript

NARRATOR: While Chopin received many critical letters about her work, she also received complimentary mail�.like this:

Dear Mrs. Chopin:

I have just finished The Awakening. Never before has a story affected me so profoundly. It is a powerful novel: intensely dramatic and awfully sad. I read at intervals with increasing interest and enjoyment until I reached the twenty-first chapter, and at that point my interest became totally engaged; I got so completely engrossed, so absorbed that I could not put the book by until I had finished it.

It is a fine story and stirring and full of interest throughout.I congratulate you with all my heart upon the splendid ability you have shown in the story. Nothing that I can say will adequately express my enthusiastic admiration for it; the quiet humor, the pleasing descriptions; the dramatic situations; the analysis of character and feeling and the consummate skill generally with which the story is constructed.

Truly in gifted hands like yours, the pen is mightier than the sword. I was bitterly grieved at the tragic ending. I had hoped for a different denouement. Tremendous interest in Edna's fate is aroused in those absorbing closing chapters�expectancy is at fever heat and I was hopeful of the usual happy outcome; instead the end is a crushing, cruel, bitter disappointment. The pathos of it all is overpowering; the impression is painfully sweet and sad. It is heart breaking. I have been deeply stirred and strangely fascinated with the story today. There is no end to my admiration of your undoubted genius. I thank you cordially for sending me the book, and assure you that your chapter impressed me highly.

One sentence in the powerful twenty-first chapter impressed me mightily: "to be an artist includes much, one must possess many gifts - absolute gifts - which have not been acquired by ones own effort."

So I have thought today, one capable of writing stories like your's is wonderfully gifted above the balance of us, and is worthy of all possible praise and success. I hope that a full measure of both may be yours.

With best wishes.

Truly and gratefully yours,
R. E. Lee Gibson

and

Dear Mrs. Chopin:

I have just finished the last chapter of The Awakening and I can thank you for the pleasure the story has given me. I think it is the most delicate - artistic.

I call it a moral tale rather than an immoral one, but I think the moral is a deep one. The book is a sermon against un-natural-ness and Edna's marriage as I understand it.

I think there is very little in it to offend anybody. Wish you lots of luck with it.

Lewis

Chopin scholars say she appreciated any words of encouragement she received in light of her many critics. By then, Chopin was at one of the lowest points in her life.