資料彙整   /   作家  /  Kate  Chopin  凱特 蕭邦
Kate  Chopin
凱特 蕭邦
圖片來源:chopin.thefreelibrary.com/
主要文類:Novel
資料提供者:Ron Tranquilla;Evelyn Sung/宋怡緻
關鍵字詞:19th Century American Female Writers

凱特•蕭邦

1851-1904


作家、譯者

Evelyn Sung/宋宜緻
 幼年喪父

 曾祖母的影響

 死亡的陰影

 婚姻

 開端

 短篇小說

 長篇小說

 《覺醒》的雙重評論

   
 幼年喪父
  凱特 • 蕭邦於一八五一年二月八日在密蘇里州的聖路易市出生。母親是法國裔克里奧爾人,活躍於其著名社交圈內。父親是愛爾蘭移民,到美國後從商有成,並陸續參與多項大膽的投資。父親過世時,蕭邦尚十分年幼。她的父親是太平洋鐵路的發起者之一,當時首航列車因橋樑的崩塌而墜入卡斯康納德河 ( Gasconade River ) ,參與列車首航之旅的父親因此罹難。

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 曾祖母的影響
  失去父親的蕭邦和母親的關係更加親密,也和曾祖母很親。蕭邦的曾祖母在去世前都和蕭邦母女一起生活,對蕭邦心靈和藝術層面的成長,頗有影響 ( 曾祖母死時蕭邦已十一歲 ) 。在曾祖母的調教之下,蕭邦對說故事、路易斯安那州早期拓荒者等歷史人物的詳細生活產生了興趣,也對生命感到十分好奇,且並不因這樣的好奇心而感到羞赧或猶疑。除此之外,曾祖母也肩負起監督蕭邦鋼琴和法文的學習。蕭邦因此對鋼琴培養出終生的興趣,並樂意探究與傳統相違的新思想。

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 死亡的陰影
  年幼喪父,蕭邦自孩提時期便一直在面對親人的死亡。雖然她總能克服失去親人的陰影,但親人之死在小小心靈上所留下的傷痛,可由她十一歲那年的反應察知。那年,先是曾祖母過世,沒多久在南北戰爭中為南方而戰的兄長也傳來了死訊。將近兩年,蕭邦避開學校、朋友、甚至家人,大半時間都將自己關在閣樓上閱讀。這段時間蕭邦大量的閱讀史考特 ( Scott ) 、菲爾汀 ( Fielding ) 、史賓塞 ( Spenser ) 的作品。佩姬 • 史考格指出:「親人的死亡對蕭邦的自我感知有著相當的影響力。多次承受喪親之痛造成的情緒緊繃,促使蕭邦尋求了解自己的方法,這種自我的追尋,也是蕭邦創作小說人物的動機。」

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 婚姻
  一八五八年,蕭邦自天主教學校畢業。之後兩年蕭邦進入聖路易市的社交圈,並因美貌與智慧兼備而受到矚目。同時,蕭邦也對天主教教義提出質疑,她認為天主教認同女人應當順從男人的教義,其實是一種隱諱的獨裁。另外,蕭邦也意識到隱藏在繁華社交生活之下的愚蠢與空洞。一八七 O 年,她與富有的棉花代理商奧斯卡 • 蕭邦 ( 克里奧爾人 ) 結婚,婚後搬至紐奧良。一八八 O 年,財務困難迫使蕭邦夫婦投靠住在克勞蒂爾維爾 ( Cloutierville ) 的公公。兩人於是在路易斯安那州紅河灣附近,那克托克教區的克勞蒂爾維爾小鎮住了下來。奧斯卡先是監管父親的農場,之後獲得農場繼承權。一八三三年奧斯卡染上瘧疾死亡,蕭邦堅持要扛下管理農場的重責大任。管理農場使蕭邦有機會接觸到社區裡各個層級的人,諸如法裔阿加底亞人、克里奧爾人、為農場工作的黑白混血的佃農。蕭邦的個人魅力、流利的法文和她那南方人特有的同情心,讓她無論在紐奧良或是克勞蒂爾維爾的社交圈中,都廣受歡迎。而她在這兩個地區生活時所體察到的人文與生活經驗,也在她的創作中體現出來。

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 開端
  一八八四年,蕭邦賣掉路易斯安那州的財產,回聖路易市和母親同住。其母一年後過世,留下蕭邦和六個孩子相依為命,一家人靠著一筆微薄的收入生活。蕭邦的家庭醫生佛德列克 • 克班海爾成了她此時唯一的好友。克醫生是個學識淵博的人,在他的鼓勵之下,蕭邦不但對當代科學有所涉獵,也放棄了她的宗教信仰,並開始專職寫作。從短篇小說開始嘗試,蕭邦早期的作品反映出她最喜愛的作家,莫泊桑 ( Guy de Maupassant ) 、都德 ( Alphonse Daudet ) 、莫里哀 ( Moliere ) 對她的影響。

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 短篇小說
  蕭邦的第一本小說集 Bayou Folk (1894,暫譯《河灣人生》) 描寫路易斯安那州的人文生活,其中農場、小屋、房舍的勾勒,無不表露當地人的生活型態,暨而奠定蕭邦擅於刻劃地方特色的作家地位。愛情是這本小說集的主題:忠誠的愛、浪漫的愛、對貞潔的愛、性的激情,或是這些子題的交疊。愛情在蕭邦諷刺的筆調下,呈現出不同的風貌、複雜的本質。第二本小說集A Night in Acadie (1897,暫譯《阿加底亞之夜》) 裡角色和環境的呈現與第一本類似,但主題較具多樣性,從浪漫的愛情,發展到自我和婚姻間衝突的探討。其中幾個小品透露了蕭邦的洞見—個人無法掌控命運所造成的缺憾,是生活的安適與愛情都無法填補的。一八九七年至一九OO年 (一說一九O一年 ),蕭邦嘗試讓第三本小說集 A Vocation and A Voice (暫譯《神召與發言權》) 發行但被拒絕。蕭邦的第三本小說不再以路易斯安那州的背景刻畫為主,轉而將重心移至角色的內心複雜面。她一貫諷刺的筆調也在此時臻於可媲美史蒂芬•奎恩 ( Stephen Crane)的境界。芭芭拉•艾薇兒在評論時表示:「此本小說集不但收錄了蕭邦最具實驗性的作品,也展露了蕭邦是如何專注而用心的探討人的內在;人的意識與環境、無意識與本能反應間的相互作用。上述心理學元素的應用輔以蕭邦不慍不火的筆觸,襯托出蕭邦在技巧運用上的爐火純青,不愧是當代知識份子中的佼佼者。《神召與發言權》就許多方面來說,可謂集蕭邦短篇小說之最、是她短篇小說創作的高峰。」

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 長篇小說
 

在她的短篇小說集中,蕭邦以饒富興味的角度看待婚外情,而非以哀痛道德淪喪或說教的態度視之。同樣的狀況也出現在她的長篇小說 At Fault (1890) 之中。 At Fault 探討女性的解放和婚姻失和的問題,是首部不對婚外情加以譴責的小說,其中對女性嗜酒者的大膽刻劃、對離婚秉持的模糊立場,為小說帶來兩極的評價。

《覺醒》 The Awakening (1899) 是蕭邦的第二本小說,被視作蕭邦最佳也最具前瞻性的作品。小說描寫女主角本是一個保守的妻子、母親,在體驗精神上的頓悟,獨立意識覺醒後而改變了自己的人生。小說旨在呈現性的自由,以及個人為獲得性自由所需付出的代價。無論在《覺醒》或《神召與發言權》之中,蕭邦皆暗示依循性的衝動也是一種體驗生命自然律動的方法。她不對性慾做道德評斷,著眼於探討性慾對社會產生的各種衝擊與影響。在蕭邦筆下,這些衝擊與影響可以是充滿痛苦的、悲劇性的、詼諧的、危險的、快樂的、愉悅的;但絕不是錯誤的。

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 《覺醒》的雙重評論
  《覺醒》的出版使評論界陷入一片嘩然。此部小說使蕭邦之後的創作遭到拒絕,另一方面,此書獲得的嚴厲抨擊某種程度上癱瘓了蕭邦的創造力。大眾對《覺醒》的譴責,加上《神召與發言權》的發行屢次被拒,似乎迫使蕭邦提早結束她的寫作生涯。大眾對《覺醒》的強烈反對,充分顯現當代的社會仍無法接受女性的自主意識、女性慾望的赤裸表達、以及女性跳脫婚姻制度的自我追尋。然而,隨著時間的推移,蕭邦因創作《覺醒》而被冠上的惡名逐漸消失,取而代之的是地方特色寫作的名聲。正是她那富含地方特色的寫作方式,讓路易斯安那州的一切鮮明而生動起來,尤以河灣區的描寫為最。近幾十年來,蕭邦的作品成了女批評家的最愛。她們讚揚蕭邦就女性困境、性壓抑、以及性壓抑對個人和社會造成的影響等等問題,展現了敏銳的洞察力。

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Kate Chopin

1851-1904


Writer, translator

Evelyn Sung/宋宜緻
 The Loss of Father

 Great-grandmother's Influence

 The Rebound of Deaths

 Marriage

 The Encouragement and the Beginning

 Short Stories

 Novels

 The Dual Reaction of The Awakening

   
 The Loss of Father
  Kate Chopin was born on Feb. 8, 1951, in St. Louis , Missouri . Her mother was a member of the prominent French-Creole community and was thus a familiar figure in exclusive social circles. Chopin's father was an Irish immigrant who had successfully established himself as a merchant and subsequently participated in various business ventures. Chopin was only a child when her father died. He had been a founder of the Pacific Railroad, and was aboard the train on its inaugural journey when it plunged into the Gasconade River after a bridge collapsed.

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 Great-grandmother's Influence
  After her father died, Chopin grew more intimate with her mother and a strong tie to her great-grandmother, who lived in their household and directed Chopin mental and artistic growth until her death (she died when Chopin was eleven). Under her great-grandmother's cultivation, Chopin developed a taste for storytelling, a relish for the intimate details about historical figures such as the earliest settlers of the Louisiana Territory , and an unabashed, unhesitant curiosity about life. Additionally, she superintended the Chopin's piano lessons and her French. Chopin's interest in music was lifelong; so was her willingness to explore unconventional ideas.

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 The Rebound of Deaths
  During her childhood, Chopin endured the death of her father, as well as several other family deaths. Although she always recovered, the depth of her grief may be sensed by her reaction as an eleven-year-old to the deaths (that occurred within a month) of both her great-grandmother and her half brother, who fought on the Confederate side during the Civil War. For about two years Chopin withdrew from school, from friends, even somewhat from her family, and spent much of the time reading in the attic, where she read voraciously over the works of Scott, Fielding, and Spenser. Peggy Skaggs observes that "Chopin's self-perception must have been affected by the various family deaths, and that the consequent tension may have resulted in the ‘search for self-understanding' that motivates so many characters in Chopin's fiction."

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 Marriage
  Chopin graduated from the Catholic school in 1868, and for the next two years she enjoyed life as a belle in St. Louis 's high society, earning admiration for both her beauty and her wit. Her independence and uniqueness were revealed through her doubts toward Catholicism's implicit authoritarianism, which dictated subservience for women to male domination, and her awareness of the inanities involved in socializing. In 1870, she married Oscar Chopin, a wealthy Creole cotton factor, and moved with him to New Orleans. In 1880, financial difficulties forced their family to move to her father-in-law's home in Cloutierville, a small town in Natchitoches Parish located in Louisiana 's Red River bayou region. There, Chopin's husband oversaw and subsequently inherited his father's plantations. When her husband died of swamp fever in 1883, Chopin insisted on taking the managerial responsibilities, which brought her into contact with almost every segment of the community, including the French-Acadian, Creole, and mulatto sharecroppers who worked the plantations. She was rather at home in New Orleans and Cloutierville society, partly because of her personal charisma but also because of her fluent French and her Southern sympathies. The impressions she gathered from the people and life experiences both from New Orleans and the Natchitoches Parish later influenced her fiction.

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 The Encouragement and the Beginning
  n 1884, she sold out the property in Louisiana and moved back to St. Louis to live with her mother, who died shortly afterward in 1885, leaving Chopin with her six children and with a small, diminishing income. Her only close friend during this time was Dr. Frederick Kolbenheyer, her physician and a learned man whose encouragement influenced her to study contemporary science, to give up her religious beliefs, and to start writing professionally. Chopin thus began to write short stories. Her early works revealed the influence her favorite writers such as Guy de Maupassant, Alphonse Daudet, and Moliere.

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 Short Stories
  In her first collection, Bayou Folk (1894), Chopin establishes herself as a masterful colorist of Louisiana life, in which the vivid portrayal of farms, cabins, and houses reflects the local peoples lifestyle. The theme of this collection is love, whether loyal devotion, romantic love, love of honor, sexual passion, or some combination of these. From Chopins ironic perspective, love and devotion takes many forms and are full of complexity. Her second collection of tales, A Night in Acadie (1897), depicts similar characters and milieu as the first collection, but the theme becomes more diverse, moving from romantic love to the exploration of the connection between selfhood and marriage. Several stories reflect her contention that security and love cannot compensate for a lack of control over ones destiny. From 1897 to 1900 or 1901, Chopin tried unsuccessfully to market a third collection of stories, called A Vocation and A Voice. In this collection Chopin moves away from the Louisianan setting to focus more on the psychological complexity of her characters. At the same time the ironic tone of her writing reached a certain stage that was close to Stephen Cranes irony. In evaluating A Vocation and a Voice, Barbara C. Ewell observed, this collection "includes some of Chopins most experimental stories, reveals how intently she had come to focus her fiction on human interiority, on the interplay of consciousness and circumstance, of unconscious motive and reflexive action. Such psychological elements, combined with technical control, indicate a writer not only in command of her craft but fully in tune with the intellectual currents of her time. In many ways, A Vocation and a Voice represents the culmination of Chopins talents as a writer of the short story."

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 Novels
 

Among her collection of tales, extramarital sex is treated as a subject of interest rather than a subject of lament or moralizing. Such ambivalent attitude toward extramarital sex also appears in her novel At Fault (1890), which looks at women's emancipation and the issue of marriage discord. It is the first novel that refused to condemn divorce and it also earned mixed reviews for its daring portrayal of a female alcoholic and its ambivalent perspective on divorce.

The Awakening (1899), her second novel, is considered Chopin's best work as well as a remarkable novel ahead of its time. Its protagonist is a conventional wife and mother who experiences a spiritual epiphany and an awakened sense of independence that changed her life. It accentuates the theme of sexual freedom and the consequences one must face to attain it. Chopin in The Awakening , along with A Vocation and a Voice , attempted to suggest that obeying erotic impulses was a way to participate in the natural rhythms of life itself. She allowed herself to move beyond the social mores, exploring the different consequences within society of such sexuality. The consequences might be painful, tragic, humorous, dangerous, joyous, or pleasurable, but they were not wrong.

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 The Dual Reaction of The Awakening
  The publication of The Awakening aroused a uproar among the critics. It caused rejections of Chopin's later stories, and the heavy criticism it gained somehow paralyzed Chopin's creativity. This public condemnation, coupled with the continued rejection of A Vocation and a Voice , was believed to shorten Chopin's literary career. Such a strong reaction revealed the public was simply not ready for such an honest exploration of female independence, a frank declaration of a woman's desires and her search for fulfillment outside marriage. However, in the ensuing years Chopin's notoriety for The Awakening faded, and her literary reputation became attached to a colorist, or a re-creator of Louisiana life, particularly that of the bayou. In more recent decades, Chopin and her work have become favored subjects among women critics, who lauded her perception of women's plight, women's sexual repression, and its effects on both individuals and their society.

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Reference

 

Dondore, Dorothy Anne. "Flaherty Chopin." Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.

"Kate Chopin." Authors and Artists for Young Adults , Volume 33. Gale Group, 2000.

"Katherine Chopin." Encyclopedia of World Biography , 2nd ed. 17 Vols. Gale Research, 1998.

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