French Literature Of The 19th Century:
The Romantic Novelists
Philosophers And Historians
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
George Sand is the literary pseudonym of a woman, who was by birth Armantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, and became by marriage Baroness Dudevant. Born in 1804, her life is as fantastic as her fictions. She inherited an untamable gypsy temperament. Her childhood was a breezy idyll; then she spent two years in the seclusion of a convent. At eighteen she was married to a country squire, and nine years later, with her two children, she left her husband to live by her pen in Paris. Jules Sandeau was one of the new novelists who sought to unfold character and picture the actual life of the time. He was her lover and assisted her in writing a story of this sort, "Rose et Blanche" (1831 ). Though she appropriated a syllable of his name as her pseudonym, their literary union did not continue. She had found her vocation and could go alone. Within a year she wrote "Indiana," the first unrestrained protest against what she felt to be the subjection of woman, and a plea for freedom in love. The book brimmed over with high-flown sentiment expressed in the music of words. The same plea was repeated with variations in a long series of romances which flowed rapidly from her pen. The liberty which she claimed in her books she practiced without concealment in her long, varied, and by no means happy life. She was a child of nature, shrewd enough to utilize her mastery of literary art in adapting her ideas for the market, in which her first book had made her a favorite purveyor. Having shown the evils flowing from unhappy marriages, she next depicted those due to unhappy liaisons, and labored to prove that no unions are binding beyond the mutual passion of the hour. Her personal influence upon such weak men of genius as Musset and Chopin was sadly in contrast with the happy results alleged to flow from her theory of freedom. Experience seems to have brought disillusion. Her earlier books expressed the universal unrest in impracticable and passionate ways. In her later books she left off her rhapsodies for abstractions and unreal liberty, and turned back to enjoy the sweet simplicity of her early years in the country. "Consuelo" (1843), which is partly based on her acquaintance with Chopin and her experience in Venice, marks the turning point in her literary career. Among her later books, "La petite Fadette" (Little Fadette), "L'Homme de Neige" (The Snow Man), and "La Mare au Diable" (The Devil's Pool), are the best liked. The "Histoire de ma Vie" (Story of My Life), is a romance of reality, but leaves much untold. For her pastorals she invented a style of her own, using words so simple that peasants could understand them, and so pure that the Academy would approve them. In her peaceful old age she wrote fairy stories for her grandchildren. She died in June, 1876, having witnessed many revolutions, political and literary.