Without End: the Shape and Form of Desire in Kate Chopin’s Short Fiction
Kate Chopin wrote often about sexual attraction; physical desire frequently propels the narrative in her fiction. When asked, in 1898, by the St Louis Post-Dispatch, to write an article in response to the question ‘“Is Love Divine?”’, this formed part of Chopin’s answer: ‘I am inclined to think that love springs from animal instinct, and therefore is, in a measure, divine. One can never resolve to love this man, this woman or child, and then carry out the resolution unless one feels irresistibly drawn by an indefinable current of magnetism.’1 Chopin does not try to define or find the source for this ‘indefinable current of magnetism’ in her fiction but she writes again and again of the effects of powerful emotion and the consequences of its arousal. For a woman writing in the 1890s and seeking to sell her stories in the carefully regulated world of magazine publishing Chopin had to be cognisant of the restrictions which prevailed as regards the portrayal of the erotic. Therefore, before she could write stories about sexual attraction and its effects, she had to find ways in which she could deflect the magazine editors — upon whom she depended for an important part of her livelihood — from focusing on the often radical content of her stories.
KeywordsBaton Rouge Sexual Attraction Complete Work Local Colour Marriage Contract
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