Art, Who was/is, writer

Who was George Sand?

Geroge Sand was the nom de plume (her literary pseudonym) of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, a French novelist and memoirist. She was one of the most popular writers of her time, even more popular than Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac in England in 1830s and 1840s, being until today recognised as one of the most notable writers of the Romantic Literature in Europe.

Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.” – George Sand

Life

George Sand was born in Paris and spent much of her childhood with her grandmother, Madame Dupin de Francueil, at her grandmother’s house in Nohant-Vic (located in the French region Centre-Val de Loire), where later she sets many of her novels.  

In 1880 the police issued an order requiring women to apply for a permit in order to wear male clothing. Some women applied for health or occupational reasons, however many women decided to wear pants and other traditional male attire in public without the permit. They did it for practical reasons and also to subvert dominant stereotypes.

George Sand by Auguste Charpentier, 1835 – Musée de la vie romantique. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sand was one of the women who did not apply for the permit and did wear sport men’s clothing, which she explained by saying that the clothes were less expensive and far sturdier than the typical dress of a noblewoman of her time.

By wearing male clothing, Sand could walk more freely in Paris, also she had access to places that were forbidden for women, even to those of her social status. And that she smoked tobacco in public was considered scandalous as well since by that time it was a habit socially not accepted in women. Even though her behaviour inspired many critics of her contemporaries, it was generally well accepted by many people until they read her books and be shocked by the subversive tone of them.  To those who admire her novels were not bothered by her rebellious conduct.

When she was only eighteen, she married Casimir Dudevant, the illegitimate son of a baron and they had two children. In 1825 she had an intense affair, but probably platonic, with a young lawyer. In 1831 she entered in a period, called by many as of “romantic rebellion”, it lasts four/five years and started just after she left her husband. In 1835 she was legally divorced from Dudevant and took the custody of their children. During her life, Sand had many romantic affairs with writers, artists and intellectuals. But the most important of all was the relationship she ad with the composer Frédéric Chopin.

George Sand and Frédéric Chopin by Eugène Delacroix, 1837.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sand die on 8 June 1876 at Nohant-Vic and was buried at the private graveyard behind the chapel of the commune.

Literary Career

At the beginning of her career, her works were in high demand. And during her lifetime her Complete Works were published in four separate editions.

George Sand found inspiration in some of her childhood experiences to write La Mare au Diable (1846), La Petite Fadette (1849) or Les Beaux Messieurs de Bois-Doré (1857). And in the book Un hiver à Majorque, first published in 1841, she described the period she spent with Frédéric Chopin on the island.

In her books she expressed her concern for the social problems of her time as we can see in Consuelo (1842-43) and in Le Compagnon du Tour de France (1840). She dreamed of a world in which the fraternal love could unite the different social classes. She wrote more than 70 titles (including novels, short stories, plays and other texts) with a political character. Sand had an active participation in the revolution of 1848.

During her late years she wrote simple tales, in the manner of fairy tale stories as Contes d’une Grand-Mère (1873) with stories she wrote to her grandchildren. Nonetheless, her memoirs are the works that arise most interest, especially Histoire de ma vie (1854-55) and Elle et Lui (1859), the last one concerning to her connection with Alfred de Musset.

Curiosities:

  • George Sand’s literary debut was a result of a collaboration with the writer Jules Sandeau. They published several stories together, signing them as Jules Sand. Her first published novel, Rose et Blanche (1831), was written in collaboration with Sandeau. And only in her first independent novel, Indiana (1832), she adopted the pseudonym that made her famous: George Sand.

Je pleure une morte, et je salue une immortelle.” – Victor Hugo

Translation: “I cry a dead woman, and I greet an immortal.” – Victor Hugo (on the occasion of Sand’s death).

References:

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