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Kate Chopin: A Re-Awakening:Enhancements - Maupassant & Music

Maupassant & Music: Chopin and Maupassant

Kate Chopin Enhancements: Maupassant & Music

Chopin and Maupassant


NARRATOR: Kate Chopin had a style all her own among American female writers in the U.S. back in the late 1800s. However, she may have been influenced heavily by French writers.

SOUNDBITE: Barbara Ewell/Loyola University (New Orleans)
That early exposure to French literature I think was an important influence on her writing.

NARRATOR: In fact, Chopin's most important literary influences were French authors; Moliere, Daudet, Zola and Maupassant. She apparently idolized Maupassant. She said, "I read his stories and marvel at them. Here was life, not fiction; for where were the plots, the old fashioned mechanism and stage trapping that in a vague, unthinking way I had fancied were essential to the art of story making."

SOUNDBITE: E.F. Genovese/Emory University
A typical Maupassant story has a surprise ending. There's a twist that, the first time you read it you may say my goodness. I never could have predicted this. It's sort of a gasp of shock. But the shock jars you into going back and re-reading and in that sense the ending governs what comes before it. Chopin adopted that technique for her own purposes. And, I think took it very seriously.

Maupassant & Music: Chopin and Music

Kate Chopin Enhancements: Maupassant & Music

Chopin and Music


NARRATOR: Kate Chopin was not only an accomplished writer, she was also quite a musician. In fact, the first artistic work that Kate published was not fiction, but a musical composition called "Lilia Polka." It was named for her daughter, Lilia.

SOUNDBITE: Thomas Bonner, Jr./Xavier University of Louisiana
I think that she wrote this and had it published with the hope of seeing where it would take her. And, it didn't take her anywhere in the music world.

NARRATOR: Professor Bonner points out that Chopin was a respected musician within her family and her community. There are reports that she could repeat any piece of music she had ever heard as a child. Emily Toth says Chopin also played music for her father-in -law�winning from him a small measure of affection�which was not an easy thing to do. Some of Kate's children carried on the tradition.

SOUNDBITE: David Chopin/Kate's Grandson
Uncle Fred was a fine pianist and I remember one time he was visiting us at our home in St. Louis and he sat down and played and he played beautifully and if he had gone on to become a concert pianist with the authentic name of Frederick Chopin it would have been great, but he didn't take that path.

NARRATOR: Now more on Kate Chopin's writing.