(b. 1804- d. 1876)
In French Literature, the Enlightenment period, which sparked intellectual energies of the nation towards changes and reform was followed by the Romantic Movement which correlated with the return of the French Monarchy in 1815. During this period there was a conflict between revolutionary and reactionary thinking which was reflected in literature, and a radical, revolutionary female writer would emerge, George Sand. Sand would question the social norms that had entrapped women in specific gender roles and lifestyles. Controversy would follow this novelist and early feminist as she would attempt to live a lifestyle similar to the successful men in French society. Sometimes dressed as a man, seeking a writing career that would produce groundbreaking literature and financial stability, Sand would put to question all previously held notions of female independence.
George Sand was raised for much of her childhood by her grandmother at the family estate, Nohant, in the French region of Berry, a setting used in many of her novels. There she would learn to read, write, play the piano, and ride horses. Sand was born Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin in Paris to a father of aristocratic lineage and a common mother. Her father was Maurice Dupin, a retired lieutenant in the army of the republic and her mother was Sophie Delaborde, the daughter of a Paris bird fancier. Their marriage took place only a month before the birth of their child.
In 1822, she married a baron, Cisimir Dudevant, who was the son of Baron Dudevant. For the first few years of their marriage Sand and her husband enjoyed a tranquil relationship living on the estate she had inherited from her grandmother, raising their two children, her son Maurice born in 1823, and her daughter Solange born in 1828. This peaceful existence between husband and wife ended after she found Cisimirís will, which contained all of his complaints about their marriage. In 1831, Sand and her husband came to an amicable separation by which her whole estate was surrendered to her husband with the stipulation that she should receive an allowance each year. With the end of her marriage she gained freedom and made no secret of her intention to use it to its fullest advantage.
After separating from her husband, Sand moved to Paris and publicly showcased her preference of wearing menís clothing, although she continued to dress as a woman for social occasions. This male wardrobe enabled her to circulate more freely about Paris and increased her access to social venues that were usually denied to a woman of her social standing. Sand did not stop at dressing like a man, she began smoking cigars and would engage in numerous love affairs the way most famous men had done.
After arriving in Paris, Sand started to write for Le Figaro, contributing Revue des Deux Mondes and La Republique and she was co-editor of Revue Indepandante. During this time in Paris, Sand would begin to associate with many artists, poets, philosophers and politicians. One such acquaintance, the write Jules Sandeau would become her lover, and they would co-write a novel, Rose Et Blanche, under the pseudonym Jules Sand. As their relationship began to dissolve, Sand wrote Indiana by herself and used the pseudonym George Sand. Indiana, a story about a naÔve abused love starved woman led to widespread critical attention and immediate fame. Sand immediately followed it with two novels Valentine and Leilia.
Sandís own romantic life led to accusations of lesbianism and nymphomania due to her affairs with well known celebrities. She had passionate affairs with the poet Alfred de Musset, Franz Liszt, and the composer Frederic Chopin. The one documented affair Sand had with a woman did cause a scandal in Paris. She became lovers with Marie Dorval an admired actress, but this romance quickly subdued and they remained close friends, as Sand did with many of her former lovers.
George Sand was a prolific writer who expressed a deep concern for human problems and strong feminist ideals. Sand would write over seventy novels, twenty four plays, ten volumes of autobiography, essays, book reviews, political pamphlets, and an estimated forty- thousand letters of which twenty-two thousand have been printed. Sand was one of the most widely read novelists of her time and she inspired many authors such as Walt Whitman, but at the same time was denounced by the Vatican which repeatedly put her novels on the list that no good Catholic should read. George Sand died on June 8, 1876 from intestinal cancer at her familyís estate at Nohant surrounded by her children and grandchildren.
In terms of historical impact, George Sandís writing continues to appeal to audiences worldwide, specifically those in the feminist movement, who identify with her resolute determination to succeed both socially and economically as men have. An example of Sandís appeal is the George Sand Society, which is a cigar smoking womenís club with chapters in New York and Los Angeles. In todayís society, George Sand would not seem as out of place as she did in her own time. George Sand stood out in 19th century Europe by being a pants-wearing, economically independent woman, seeking romance; but this persona has become an acceptable part of the social norm for a single female in most of todayís world. Although George Sand may not have the mainstream public appeal of a Jane Austen, she relates more to most of todayís females than any other author of the 19th century.
Cate, Curtis. George Sand. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975.
Cate born in Paris and a graduate of Harvard University provides a secondary source which focuses on Sandís literary impact in France as well as Europe. The author describes Sandís work ethic and drive, which was extraordinary, and it helped her produce numerous novels and letters. Besides Sandís professional life, Curtis also writes about her stormy romantic escapades and the many friendships she struck up with males during her life. This book provides numerous references for any researcher investigating the life and times of George Sand.
Florence, Raynal. ďGeorge Sand: A Woman of Passion and Conviction.Ē
Label France. 2004. <http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/label_france/53/gb/13.html> 5 November 2005).
This website created by Label France a French magazine provides a biography on George Sand. The website was recognizing the 200th anniversary of Sandís birth, and provides a photo of Sand by the famous photographer Nadar. The biography gives an all encompassing account of Sandís life including her childhood, literary accomplishments, and love life. This site is recommended for any student looking for both background and topic specific information on Sand.
Gosse, Edmund. "Life of Georges Sand." Globusz
Publishing 2004. <http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Mauprat/00000012.htm>
(16 December, 2005.
Brief bio as prelude to online book Mauprat.
Harlan, Elizabeth. George Sand. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2004.
Harlan, a novelist based in Paris, tries to avoid the romantic entanglements that have partly defined Sandís life. Instead, she focuses on the strained relationship between Sand and her mother as well as Sandís relationship with her own children. There are a handful of portraits of Sand in the novel as well as a bibliography containing over one hundred sources. This book will help any researcher attempting to locate information on Sandís family life.
Howe, Marie. George Sand: The Search for Love. Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishers, 1927.
Howe, a graduate of Meadville Theological School who was active in the womenís suffrage movement, examines the inner life of Sand. The author states that her purpose is to explore what Sand thought and felt. Howe believes that Sand was so far advanced compared to other women that she was driven to associate with men and she adopted their standards. This source provides numerous correspondences and letters between Sand and her friends and lovers. I recommend this work for any researcher investigating Sand, particularly those from a womenís studies field because this source focuses on her successful attempt of intertwining with a male dominated social and literary society.
Maurois, Andre. Lelia: The Life of George Sand. Translated by Gerard Hopkins. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1953.
Written by French author Andre Maurois, this secondary source portrays Sand as the voice of women at a time when a womanís voice was seldom heard. The title Leila is also a title of one of Sandís many works.The author describes the artistic inspiration that Sand provided to her numerous lovers including Chopin. Maurois believes that Sand is not read enough and he openly states his affection for her writing. This source supplies detailed information on Sand, but I would caution a researcher to identify Mauroisís bias towards Sand which comes across as overly fervent.
Myers, Gerry. ďSelling (A Manís World) To Women.Ē American Demographics. April 1996, 36-42.
This article focuses on how businesses in the United States are selling working women products that are usually purchased by men such as cigars. The article mentions the George Sand Society of Cigar Smoking Women. This society, named after the French author who was known to smoke cigars shows the impact the controversial French writer has made on the world. This article would benefit a business major researching sales directed at women, but it does not offer much in regards to Sand.
Powell, David. ďThe George Sand Association.Ē 1999. <hofstra.edu/georgesand> (15 July 2009).
Powell, a professor at Hofstra, created this website to showcase the George Sand Literary Society which was founded in 1976. The societyís purpose is to encourage and foster research on Sand. There are links to articles and some works on the internet, but to access all information one must be a member of the society. This site provides personal opinions and analysis of Sandís works, but there is not much biographical information. Recommended for those interested in literary interpretations with the possibility of joining a group that shares the same interests.
Schermerhorn, Elizabeth. The Seven Strings of the Lyre: The Romantic Life of George Sand. Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin, 1929.
Schermerhorn has produced a source that provides a biography of Sand that is greatly influenced by her memoirs, letters, and novels. By using primary sources the author highlights Sandís numerous love affairs and dives into the romantic entanglements which greatly influenced her work. This book provides portraits of Sand, but offers no bibliography. Recommended for a scholar investigating Sandís love life, but this work should not be used as a starting point for the amateur historian.
Schwartz, Robert. ďWomen: Conformity vs. Resistance.Ē History 255 Presents: The France of Victor Hugo. 1999. <www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwartz/hist255/At/georges.html> (4 November 2005).
This site was created by Professor Robert Schwartzís history class at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. This site focuses on Victor Hugo, but does provide a link to rebellious female French writers. One such writer is George Sand, and a brief biography is displayed along with a sketch of Sand dressed in a top hat reflecting a manly image. This site provides some basic information on Sand, but it would extremely beneficial to a researcher interested in Victor Hugo and the French Revolution.
Thompson, Patricia. George Sand and the Victorians: Her Influence and Reputation in Nineteenth-Century
England. New York: Columbia University Press, 1977.
Thompson, who taught at the University of Sussex, focuses on the impact of George Sand on Victorian England and her influence on 19th century English literature. The author considers Sand a significant influence and believes her writing bridges the gap between Jane Austen and George Elliot. Sand is described as the most widely talked about woman in Europe during the 1830ís and she was the most widely read of foreign authors in England. Although this work does not provide much biographical information on Sand, it would provide an excellent source for any researcher examining Sandís influence abroad.
Winegarten, Renee. The Double Life of George Sand: Woman and Writer. New York: Basic Books, 1978.
Winegarten, a literary scholar and critic, provides a work which focuses on Sandís problem of being an exceptional woman doomed in a male dominated society. The author concentrates on Sandís role as both mother and daughter, and how these womanly experiences impacted her writing. This secondary source provides a detailed account of Sandís life including the hardships she faced. Recommended for both fans of Sand and researchers looking for background information.
Winwor, Francis. The Life of the Heart: George Sand and Her
Times. New York and London: Harper Brothers, 1945.
Winwor offers a true biography beginning with the tumultuous family life she was born into. This work has numerous illustrations and an extensive bibliography referencing over one hundred sources including Schermerhornís The Seven Strings of the Lyre. This book provides an excellent starting point for any student searching for background information on the life and times of George Sand.
Wernick, Robert. ďA Woman Writ Large In Our History and Hearts.Ē
Smithsonian. December 1996, 122-137.
This article provides an excellent source of information on the background of George Sand. Focusing on her turbulent family life and unhappy marriage which helped her defy conventional the conventional role of women in 19th century Paris. The article emphasizes Sandís literary importance as well as the indelible imprint she left on our modern society.
Original written by Jonathan Grochowski 2005
Last Revision: 15 July 2009
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