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George Sand

George Sand

The French novelist George Sand (1804-1876) was the most successful woman writer of her century. Her novels present a large fresco of romantic sentiment and 19th-century life, especially in its more pastoral aspects.

George Sand was born Armandine Aurore Lucille Dupin in Paris on July 1, 1804. On her father's side she was related to a line of kings and to the Maréchal de Saxe; her mother was the daughter of a professional bird fancier. Aurore's father, Maurice Dupin, was a soldier of the Empire. He died when Aurore was still a child.

At the age of 14, tired of being the "apple of discord" between her mother and grandmother, Aurore went to the convent of the Dames Augustines Anglaises in Paris. Though she did her best to disrupt the convent's peaceful life, she felt drawn to quiet contemplation and direct communication with God.

To save Aurore from mysticism, her grandmother called her to her home in Nohant. Here Aurore studied nature, practiced medicine on the peasants, read from the philosophers of all ages, and developed a passion for the works of François René Chateaubriand. Her eccentric tutor encouraged her to wear men's clothing while horseback riding, and she galloped through the countryside in trousers and loose shirt, free, wild, and in love with nature.

Marriage and Lovers

When her grandmother died, Aurore became mistress of the estate at Nohant. At 19 she married Casimir Dudevant, the son of a baron and a servant girl. He was goodhearted but coarse and sensual, and he offended her lofty and mystical ideal of love. Aurore soon began to seek her idealized love object elsewhere. For a time she maintained a platonic relationship with Aurélien de Se‧ze, but eventually this affair languished. She had begun to realize that it was impossible to sustain love without physical passion.

At the age of 27 Aurore moved to Paris in search of independence and love, leaving husband and children behind. She began writing articles to earn her living and met a coterie of writers. Henri de Latouche and Charles Sainte-Beuve became her mentors.

Aurore fell in love with Jules Sandeau, a charming young writer. They collaborated on articles and signed them collectively "J. Sand." When she published her first novel, Indiana (1832), she took as her pen name "George Sand."

George Sand made a home for Sandeau and for her daughter, Solange, but eventually she wearied of his jealousy and idle disposition. He, in turn, realized that he could never overcome her essential frigidity. She felt as though she had failed in marriage as well as in adultery. Several novels of disillusioned love were the fruit of this period of her life. Then she met the young poet Alfred de Musset, and they became lovers.

George Sand legally separated from her husband; she gained custody over Solange, while her husband kept the other child, Maurice. She now came to enjoy great renown in Paris both as a writer and as a bold and brilliant woman. She had many admirers and chose new lovers from among them. Her lovers included the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin and the doctor who attended Musset in Venice. Perhaps it was her inability to be aroused to physical passion that drove her from one lover to another. She compensated for this deficiency by the spiritual intensity of her love.

Political Views

George Sand was a democrat; she felt close to the people by birth, and she often praised the humble virtues of the urban and country poor in her novels. She was a Christian of sorts and advocated a socially conscious religion. Like Jean Jacques Rosseau, she believed that inherently good man was corrupted by civilization and faulty institutions.

Despite her own feminist leanings, George Sand never advocated political equality for women. It was in love that she demanded equality, in the free choice of the love object; the inequality of men and women before the law seemed to her a scandal.

Last Years

As she grew older, George Sand spent more and more time at her beloved Nohant and gave herself up to the intoxications of pastoral life, the entertainment of friends, the staging of puppet shows, and most of all to her grandchildren. Though she had lost none of her vital energy and enthusiasm, she grew less concerned with politics. Her quest for the absolute in love had led her through years of stormy affairs to the attainment of a tolerant and universal love—of God, of nature, of children. She died in Nohant on June 9, 1876.

Early Novels

Every night from midnight until dawn, George Sand covered her daily quota of 20 pages with her large, tranquil writing, never crossing out a line. All her novels are love stories in which her romantic idealism unfolds in a realistic setting. The characters are people she knew, although their sentiments are idealized.

The early works by George Sand are novels of passion, written to alleviate the pain of her first love affairs. Indiana (1832) has as its central theme woman's search for the absolute in love. Valentine (1832) depicts an aristocratic woman, unhappily married, who finds that a farmer's son loves her. Lélia (1854) is a lyrical but searching confession of the author's own physical coldness. Lélia is a beautiful woman loved by a young poet, but she can show him only maternal affection.

Socialist Novels

During the 1840s George Sand wrote a number of novels in which she exposed her socialist doctrine joined with a humanitarian religion. Le Compagnon du tour de France (1840), Consuelo (1842-1843), and Le Péchéde Monsieur Antoine (1847) are typical novels of this period. Her socialism was of an optimistic, idealistic nature. She sympathized in these novels with the plight of the worker and the farmer. She also wrote a number of novels devoted to country life, most produced during her retreat to Nohant at the time of the 1848 uprising. La Mare au diable (1846), La Petite Fadette (1849), and Les Maîtres sonneurs (1852) are typical novels of this genre. They celebrate the humble virtues of a simple life and offer idealized portraits of the peasants of Berry.

George Sand's last works show a tendency to moralize; in these novels the characters become incarnated theories rather than human beings.

Further Reading

George Sand's appeal to biographers has inspired a number of good works. Elizabeth W. Schermerhorn, The Seven Strings of the Lyre: The Romantic Life of George Sand, 1804-1876 (1927), is authoritative and carefully compiled. Felizia Seyd, Romantic Rebel: The Life and Times of George Sand (1940), is a straightforward account. André Maurois, Lélia: The Life of George Sand (1952; trans. 1953), is readable and emotionally compelling. Two books that emphasize George Sand's love life are Marie J. Howe, George Sand: The Search for Love (1927), and Frances Winwar, The Life of the Heart: George Sand and Her Times (1945). □

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Sand, George

George Sand

Born: July 1, 1804
Paris, France
Died: June 9, 1876
Nohant, France

French author

The French novelist George Sand was one of the most successful female writers of the nineteenth century.

Early life

George Sand was born Armandine Aurore Lucille Dupin in Paris, France, on July 1, 1804. Her father, Maurice Dupin, was related to a line of kings and to the Maréchal de Saxe (Marshal of Saxe); her mother, Sophie, was the daughter of a professional bird fancier who came from a humble background. Maurice Dupin was a soldier and died when Aurore was four years old. After her father's death, Aurore, her mother, and her grandmother moved from Paris to Nohant, France. At the age of fourteen, Aurore was sent to the convent (a community for nuns) of the Dames Augustines Anglaises in Paris. Though she was often rebellious against the convent's peaceful life, she also felt drawn to quiet, deep thought and direct communication with God.

To save Aurore from mysticism (the belief that communication with God can be achieved through spiritual insight), her grandmother called her to her home. Here Aurore studied nature, practiced medicine on the peasants (poor, working class), read from the philosophers of all ages, and developed a passion for the works of French writer François René Chateaubriand (17681848). Her colorful tutor encouraged her to wear men's clothing while horseback riding, and she galloped through the countryside in trousers and a loose shirt, free, wild, and in love with nature.

Marriage and lovers

Aurore became mistress of the estate at Nohant when her grandmother died. At nineteen she married Casimir Dudevant, the son of a baron and a servant girl. He was goodhearted but coarse and sensual, and he offended her far-fetched ideal of love. At the age of twenty-seven Aurore moved to Paris in search of independence and love, leaving her husband and children behind. She began writing articles to earn her living and met many writers. Henri de Latouche and historian Charles Sainte-Beuve (18041869) became her mentors.

Aurore fell in love with Jules Sandeau, a charming young writer. They collaborated on articles and signed them collectively "J. Sand." When she published her first novel, Indiana (1832), she took as her pen name "George Sand." Eventually her affair with Sandeau dissolved. Then she met the young poet Alfred de Musset (18101857), and they became lovers.

George Sand legally separated from her husband; she gained custody over their daughter, Solange, while her husband kept the other child, Maurice. She had come to enjoy a great reputation in Paris both as a writer and as a bold and brilliant woman. She had many admirers and chose new lovers from among them. Her lovers included the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin (18101849).

Her novels

Every night from midnight until dawn, George Sand covered her daily quota of twenty pages with her large, tranquil writing, never crossing out a line. All her novels are love stories in which her romantic idealism unfolds in a realistic setting.

The early works by George Sand are novels of passion, written to lessen the pain of her first love affairs. Indiana (1832) has as its central theme woman's search for the absolute in love. Valentine (1832) depicts an upper-class woman, unhappily married, who finds that a farmer's son loves her. Lélia (1854) is a lyrical but searching confession of the author's own physical coldness. Lélia is a beautiful woman loved by a young poet, but she can show him only motherly affection.

Le Compagnon du tour de France (1840), Consuelo (18421843), and Le Péché de Monsieur Antoine (1847) are typical novels of this period for the author. She sympathized in these novels with the difficult lives of the worker and the farmer. She also wrote a number of novels devoted to country life, most produced during her retreat to Nohant. La Mare au diable (1846), La Petite Fadette (1849), and Les Maîtres sonneurs (1852) are typical novels of this genre.

As George Sand grew older, she spent more and more time at her beloved Nohant and gave herself up to the gentle, peaceful life she created for herself there, the entertainment of friends, the staging of puppet shows, and most of all to her grandchildren. Though she had lost none of her vital energy and enthusiasm, she grew less concerned with politics. Her quest for the absolute in love had led her through years of stormy affairs to reaching a tolerant and universal loveof God, of nature, and of children. She died in Nohant on June 9, 1876.

For More Information

Dickenson, Donna. George Sand: A Brave Man, the Most Womanly Woman. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.

Jack, Belinda. George Sand: A Woman's Life Writ Large. New York: Knopf, 2000.

Sand, George. Story of My Life: The Autobiography of George Sand. Edited by Thelma Jurgrau. Albany: State University Press of New York, 1991.

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Sand, George

George Sand (sănd, Fr. zhôrzh säN), pseud. of Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin, baronne Dudevant (ämäNdēn´ ôrôr´ lüsē´ düpăN, bärôn´ düdväN´), 1804–76, French novelist. Other variant forms of her maiden name include Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin. Born of an aristocratic father and a lower-class mother, she was reared by her austere paternal grandmother on a country estate in Berry. After entering a convent in Paris, she returned to the countryside and led an unconventional life, donning the male clothes that became a mark of her rebellion. In 1831, after eight years of a marriage of convenience with Baron Dudevant, a country squire, she went with her two children to Paris, obtaining a divorce in 1836. She wrote some 80 novels, which were widely popular in their day, supporting herself and her children chiefly by her writing. Her earlier novels were romantic; later ones often expressed her serious concern with social reform. Her liaisons—with Jules Sandeau, Musset, Chopin, and others—were open and notorious, but were only part of her life. She demanded for women the freedom in living that was a matter of course to the men of her day.

Her first novel, Rose et Blanche (1831), was in collaboration with Jules Sandeau (a shortening of his last name provided her with the pseudonym which she kept all her life), with whom she had previously written articles for the journal Figaro. Of her own novels, La Mare au diable (1846, tr. The Haunted Pool, 1890) and Les Maîtres sonneurs [the master bell-ringers] (1853) are considered masterpieces. Notable also are Indiana (1832, tr. 1881), Mauprat (1837), Consuelo (1843, tr. 1846), François le champi (1848, tr. Francis the Waif, 1889), La Petite Fadette (1849, tr. Fanchon the Cricket, 1864), and Contes d'une grand'mère (1873, tr. Tales of a Grandmother, 1930), a collection of Breton fairy tales. All these books are distinguished by a romantic love of nature as well as an extravagant moral idealism. She also wrote a number of plays. Much of her work was autobiographical, notably Histoire de ma vie (1854); Elle et lui [she and he] (1859), which concerns her life with Musset; and Un Hiver à Majorque [a winter in Majorca] (1842), about her life with Chopin.

See her Intimate Journal (1929, tr. 1929); biographies by A. Maurois (1951, tr. 1953), C. Cate (1975), R. Winegarten (1978), B. Jack (2000), and B. Eisler (2006); studies by R. Doumie (1910, repr. 1972), W. G. Atwood (1980), J. Glasgow, ed. (1986), K. J. Crecelius (1988), and B. Eisler (2003).

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Sand, George

Sand, George (1804–76) French novelist, b. Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin. Romantic novels such as Lélia (1833) and Mauprat (1837) advocate women's right to independence. Her later work includes The Haunted Pool (1846) and The Master Bellringers (1853), which are masterpieces of rural life. Her autobiographical works include A Winter in Majorca (1842). She is also remembered for her relationships with Musset and Chopin.

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