Edna Pontellier is a 29-year-old mother of two in late nineteenth century Louisiana. As befits a woman in her station, she has maids to clean, cooks to prepare her food, and a nanny to care for her young ones. As Kate Chopin’s novella The Awakening (published 1889) begins, she is spending her summer vacation at

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Heart of Darkness (1902) by Joseph Conrad is considered by many to be one of the best novels written in the English language, a fact made all the more remarkable to me by the fact that Joseph Conrad wrote in not his first or second language but his third language, a language he learned after

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Quicksand, Nella Larsen’s debut novel (published 1928) was not nearly as satisfying to me as her second one, Passing (published 1929), which I found a complex but intriguing look at race and repressed sexuality for a light-skinned “coloured” woman in New York during the Harlem Renaissance (thoughts here). Despite my frustrations with Quicksand, it is

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Summer by Edith Wharton (published 1917) is a short novella about a young woman searching for her place. In some places, it’s been cited as Wharton’s most “erotic” work1. Charity Royall does come to her own sexual awakening over the course of a summer, but Wharton writes about Charity’s choices without too much sexual reference.

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This post may contain thematic spoilers of My Lady Ludlow. Lady Ludlow is the representation of the old aristocracy in England.  She is a conservative who does not want to allow the lower classes to gain an education or to gain “rights” in the post-Revolutionary years. Beyond those that are her servants, she essentially does

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I was a bit disappointed by Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. I’m glad I read it: it gave me a new perspective on Wharton, because it was a different setting, cast of characters, and theme from those I’ve read before. It was wonderfully written, with Wharton’s elaborate and realistic descriptions of the setting and thought processes.

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Although Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a slim book (124 pages), the issues raised are relevant today. I wouldn’t say Gilman’s writing is stunning or beautiful. The plot is not engaging or page-turning. It is predictable and overly “convenient.” The characters are stereotypes on steroids. But rather than expecting any of those other things,

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I had previously seen the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet, so I thought I’d revisit it on CD during my opera phase in November. When I listened to the commentary CD for it (produced by the Chicago Lyric Opera), I discovered that the story was originally a novella by Prosper Merimee, so I downloaded the

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