George Sand

George Sand

            Who is George Sand? I asked my self this exact same question when I drew her name out of the cup of topics.  Yes I was surprised too. But, George Sand is a woman. Don’t worry; George Sand wasn’t her real name. Her actual name was Amantine Lucile Dupin’s. George Sand was a French writer. She was one of the first women to gain a significant reputation in France.  Not only was she known for her writing but also she was notorious for her affairs. We’ll begin to uncover George Sand by first looking at her early life.

            George Sand was born in Paris to Maurice Dupin, a military officer. Her father was a distant relative of King Louis XVI. Her mother was just a commoner. Sand was raised in her grandmother’s country home. Sand received her education in Nohant  – her grandmother’s estate – and Couvent des Anglaises. Sand’s childhood would inspire a lot of her novels.  In 1822, eighteen-year-old Sand married Casimir Dudevant with whom she had Maurice and Solange. Her son Casimir Dudevant was the illegitimate child of Jean-François Dudevant.  In 1821 Sand’s grandmother died and left her Nohant. Because of problems with her marriage, Sand left her husband in 1831.

            Shortly after leaving her family and returning to Paris, Sand’s writing career began. She also began a bit of a rebellion, dressing like men and smoking. Sand started off writing for Le Figaro. Sand soon began supporting Socialism by writing many essays. A lot the men she had relationships with seemed to inspire her pseudonym. In collaboration with Jules Sandeau, Sand wrote Rose et Blanche as Jules Sand. She called herself G. Sand after publishing Indiana, which gained her a lot of attention. Some of Sand’s other notable works include Valentine, La Petite Fadette, La Mare au Diable. Here is an excerpt from Indiana:

            Madame Delmare, when she heard her husband’s imprecations, felt stronger than she expected. She preferred this fierce wrath, which reconciled her with herself, to a generous forbearance which would have aroused her remorse. She wiped away the last trace of her tears and summoned what remained of her strength, which she was well content to expend in a day, so heavy a burden had life become to her. Her husband accosted her in a harsh and imperious tone, but suddenly changed his expression and his manner and seemed sorely embarrassed, overmatched by the superiority of her character. He tried to be as cool and dignified as she was; but he could not succeed.

        “Will you condescend to inform me, madame,” he said, “where you passed the morning and perhaps the night?”

       That perhaps indicated to Madame Delmare that her absence had not been discovered until late. Her courage increased with that knowledge.

        “No, monsieur,” she replied, “I do not propose to tell you.”

        Delmare turned green with anger and amazement.

        “Do you really hope to conceal the truth from me?” he said, in a trembling voice.

        “I care very little about it,” she replied in an icy tone.”I refuse to tell you solely for form’s sake. I propose to convince you that you have no right to ask me that question.”

        “I have no right, ten thousand devils. Who is master here, pray tell, you or I? Which of us wears a petticoat and ought to be running a distaff? Do you propose to take the beard off my chin? It would look well on you, hussy!”

        “I know that I am the slave and you are the master. The laws of this country make you my master. You can bind my body, tie my hands, govern my acts. You have the right of the stronger, and society confirms you in it; but you cannot command my will, monsieur; God alone can bend it and subdue it. Try to find a law, a dungeon, an instrument of torture that gives you any hold on it! you might as well try to handle the air and grasp space.”

        “Hold your tongue, you foolish, impertinent creature; your high-flown novelist’s phrases weary me.”

        “You can impose silence on me, but not prevent me from thinking.”

        “Silly pride! pride of a poor worm! you abuse the compassion I have had for you! But you will soon see that this mighty will can be subdued without too much difficulty.”

       “I don’t advise you to try it; your response would suffer, and you would gain nothing in dignity.”

        “Do you think so?” he said, crushing her hand between his thumb and forefinger.

        “I do think so,” she said, without wincing.

        Ralph stepped forward, grasped the colonel’s arm in his iron hand and bent it like a reed, saying in a pacific tone:

        “I beg that you will not touch a hair of that woman’s head.”

        Delmare longed to fly at him; but he felt that he was in the wrong and he dreaded nothing in the world so much as having to blush for himself. So he simply pushed him away, saying:

        “Attend to your own business.”

        Then he returned to his wife.

        “So, madame,” he said, holding his arms tightly against his sides to resist the temptation to strike her, “you rebel against me, you refuse to go to Ile Bourbon with me, you desire a separation? Very well! Mordieu! I too–“

Sand was important in France because she played a big role in the growth of the novel. Even though Sand’s books were popular, they sparked a lot of controversy. The French Senate banned her books in public libraries. As mentioned before, Sand was also known for her affairs, even with women. Some went as far as to call her a slut. She was romantically linked to Jules Sandeau, Frederic Chopin, Alfred de Musset, and Marie Dorval. Sand began another relationship with the poet Alfred de Musset after he sent her a letter admiring Indiana.  Sand’s next lover was the composer, Chopin who Sand suspected of falling in love with her daughter Solange.

After the French Revolution failed, Sand moved back to her grandmother’s estate of Nohant. Besides writing, Sand loved to travel. She left Nohant for a while and went to Versailles.  Sand eventually returned to Nohant where she later died at the age of 72. George Sand died on June 8, 1876. Ironically after her death, she began losing popularity.

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About mlleminor

Instructor in MCL French Division at the University of Kentucky
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