George Sand

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George Sand
George Sand by Nadar, 1864.jpg
Sand, as photographed in 1864 by Nadar
Born Amantine Lucile Dupin
(1804-07-01)1 July 1804
Paris, France
Died 8 June 1876(1876-06-08) (aged 71)
Nohant-Vic, France
Casimir Dudevant
(m. 1822; separated 1835)
Children Maurice Sand
Solange Sand
  • Maurice Dupin (father)
  • Sophie-Victorie Delaborde (mother)

Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin[1] (French: [amɑ̃tin lysil oʁɔʁ dypɛ̃]; 1 July 1804 – 8 June 1876), best known by her nom de plume George Sand (French: [ʒɔʁʒ sɑ̃d]), was a French novelist and memoirist.


Sand wrote: "My name is not Marie-Aurore de Saxe, Marquise of Dudevant, as several of my biographers have asserted, but Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, and my husband, M. François Dudevant, claims no title: the highest rank he ever reached was that of infantry second lieutenant."[2]

Always known simply as "Aurore",[3] she was born in Paris, but raised for much of her childhood by her grandmother, Marie-Aurore de Saxe, Madame Dupin de Francueil, at her grandmother's estate, Nohant, in the French province of Berry (see House of George Sand). Sand later used the setting in many of her novels. Her upbringing was quite liberal. Her father, Maurice Dupin, was the grandson of the Marshal General of France, Maurice, Comte de Saxe, an illegitimate son of Augustus II the Strong, King of Poland and a Saxon elector, and a cousin to the sixth degree to Kings Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X of France.[4] She was also related much more distantly to King Louis Philippe of France through common ancestors from German and Danish ruling families. Sand's mother, Sophie-Victoire Delaborde, however, was a commoner.

In 1822, at the age of eighteen, Sand married Casimir Dudevant[5] (1795–1871; first name "François"), illegitimate son of Baron Jean-François Dudevant. She and Dudevant had two children: Maurice (1823–1889) and Solange (1828–1899). In 1825 she had an intense but perhaps platonic affair with the young lawyer Aurélien de Sèze.[6] In early 1831, she left her husband and entered upon a four- or five-year period of "romantic rebellion." In 1835, she was legally separated from Dudevant and took her children with her.

Sand conducted affairs of varying duration with Jules Sandeau (1831), Prosper Mérimée, Alfred de Musset (summer 1833 – March 1835), Louis-Chrysostome Michel, Pierre-François Bocage, Charles Didier, Félicien Mallefille, Louis Blanc, and Frédéric Chopin (1837–1847).[7] Later in life, she corresponded with Gustave Flaubert, and despite their differences in temperament and aesthetic preference, they eventually became close friends. She engaged in an intimate friendship with actress Marie Dorval, which led to widespread but unconfirmed rumours of a lesbian affair.[8]

In Majorca one can still visit the (formerly abandoned) Carthusian monastery of Valldemossa, where she spent the winter of 1838–1839 with Chopin and her children.[9] This trip to Majorca was described by her in Un hiver à Majorque (A Winter in Majorca), first published in 1841.[10] Chopin was already ill with incipient tuberculosis (or, as has recently been suggested, cystic fibrosis) at the beginning of their relationship, and spending a winter in Majorca—where Sand and Chopin did not realize that winter was a time of rain and cold and where they could not get proper lodgings—exacerbated his symptoms.[11] They separated two years before his death for a variety of reasons. In her novel Lucrezia Floriani, Sand used Chopin as a model for a sickly Eastern European prince named Karol. He is cared for by a middle-aged actress past her prime, Lucrezia, who suffers a great deal through her affection for Karol.[12] Though Sand claimed not to have made a cartoon out of Chopin, the book's publication and widespread readership may have exacerbated their antipathy to each other. The tipping point in their relationship involved her daughter Solange.

Sand as Mary Magdalene in a sketch by Louis Boulanger

Chopin continued to be cordial to Solange after she and her husband, Auguste Clésinger, had a vicious falling out with Sand over money. Sand took Chopin's support of Solange as outright treachery and confirmation that Chopin had always "loved" Solange.[13] Sand's son Maurice also disliked Chopin. Maurice wanted to establish himself as the "man of the estate" and did not wish to have Chopin as a rival. Chopin was never asked back to Nohant; in 1848, he returned to Paris from a tour of the United Kingdom, to die at the Place Vendôme in the following year. Chopin was penniless at that time; his friends had to pay for his stay there, as well as his funeral at the Madeleine. The funeral was attended by over 3,000 people, including Eugène Delacroix, Franz Liszt, Victor Hugo and other famous people. George Sand was notable by her absence.

Sand was also known for her implication and writings during the Paris Commune, where she took a position for the Versailles assembly against the "communards," urging them to take violent action against the "rebels."[14]


Casimir Dudevant, Sand's husband, in the 1860s
George Sand by Charles Louis Gratia (c. 1835)

A liaison with the writer Jules Sandeau heralded her literary debut. They published a few stories in collaboration, signing them "Jules Sand." Her first published novel, Rose et Blanche (1831), was written in collaboration with Sandeau. She subsequently adopted, for her first independent novel, Indiana (1832), the pen name that made her famous – George Sand.[15]

Drawing from her childhood experiences of the countryside, she wrote the pastoral novels La Mare au Diable (1846), François le Champi (1847–1848), La Petite Fadette (1849), and Les Beaux Messieurs Bois-Doré (1857).[16] A Winter in Majorca described the period that she and Chopin spent on that island from 1838 to 1839. Her other novels include Indiana (1832), Lélia (1833), Mauprat (1837), Le Compagnon du Tour de France (1840), Consuelo (1842–1843), and Le Meunier d'Angibault (1845). Theatre pieces and autobiographical pieces include Histoire de ma vie (1855), Elle et Lui (1859, about her affair with Musset), Journal Intime (posthumously published in 1926), and Correspondence. Sand often performed her theatrical works in her small private theatre at the Nohant estate.

In addition, Sand authored literary criticism and political texts. Because of her early life, she sided with the poor and working class as well as women's rights. When the 1848 Revolution began, she was an ardent republican. Sand started her own newspaper, which was published in a workers' co-operative.[17]

However, she was appalled by the violence of the Paris Commune. She wrote: "The horrible adventure continues. They ransom, they threaten, they arrest, they judge. They have taken over all the city halls, all the public establishments, they’re pillaging the munitions and the food supplies."[18]

Sand sewing, from Portrait of Frédéric Chopin and George Sand (1838), Delacroix

Sand was well known around the world, while her social practices, writings, and beliefs prompted much commentary, often by other members of the world of arts and letters, e.g.:

She was a thinking bosom and one who overpowered her young lovers. – V. S. Pritchett[19]

She loved both of us, but you above all. What a heart of gold she had! What absence of every petty, mean, or false feeling! What a brave man she was, and what a good woman! – Ivan Turgenev[20]

Tell her that I love her with all my heart, that she is still the most womanly woman I have ever known. – Alfred de Musset[21]

The most widely used quote of her own is: "There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." [This quote needs a citation]


George Sand died at Nohant, near Châteauroux, in France's Indre département on 8 June 1876, at the age of 71. She was buried in the private graveyard behind the chapel at Nohant-Vic.[22] In 2003, plans that her remains be moved to the Panthéon in Paris resulted in controversy.[23][24]

Contemporary views

Sand's reputation came into question when she began sporting men's clothing in public,[when?] which she justified by the clothes being far sturdier and less expensive than the typical dress of a noblewoman at the time. In addition to being comfortable, Sand's male dress enabled her to circulate more freely in Paris than most of her female contemporaries, and gave her increased access to venues from which women were often barred, even women of her social standing. Also scandalous was Sand's smoking tobacco in public; neither peerage nor gentry had yet sanctioned the free indulgence of women in such a habit, especially in public (though Franz Liszt's paramour Marie d'Agoult affected this as well, smoking large cigars).

These and other behaviors were exceptional for a woman of the early and mid-19th century, when social codes—especially in the upper classes—were of the utmost importance. As a consequence of many unorthodox aspects of her lifestyle, Sand was obliged to relinquish some of the privileges appertaining to a baroness, though the mores of the period did permit upper-class wives to live physically separate from their husbands, without losing face, provided the estranged couple exhibited no blatant irregularity to the outside world.

Poet Charles Baudelaire was a contemporary critic of George Sand: "She is stupid, heavy and garrulous. Her ideas on morals have the same depth of judgment and delicacy of feeling as those of janitresses and kept women ... The fact that there are men who could become enamoured of this slut is indeed a proof of the abasement of the men of this generation."[25] Other writers of the period, however, differed in their assessment. Flaubert, by no means an indulgent or forbearing critic, was an unabashed admirer. Honoré de Balzac, who knew Sand personally, once said that if someone thought she wrote badly, it was because their own standards of criticism were inadequate. He also noted that her treatment of imagery in her works showed that her writing had an exceptional subtlety, having the ability to "virtually put the image in the word."[26]

In literature

Frequent literary references to George Sand can be found in Possession (1990) by A. S. Byatt. The American poet Walt Whitman cited Sand's novel Consuelo as a personal favorite, and the sequel to this novel, La Comtesse de Rudolstadt, contains at least a couple of passages that appear to have had a very direct influence on him. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61), the English poet, produced two poems: "To George Sand: A Desire" and "To George Sand: A Recognition." The character of Stepan Verkhovensky in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel Demons took to translating the works of George Sand in his periodical, before the periodical was subsequently seized by the ever-cautious Russian government of the 1840s (Dostoyevsky himself "read widely in the numerous novels of George Sand" and translated her La dernière Aldini in 1844 but "discovered to his dismay that the work had already appeared in Russian"[27]). Sand is also referred to in Virginia Woolf's book-length essay A Room of One's Own along with George Eliot and Currer Bell as "all victims of inner strife as their writings prove, sought ineffectively to veil themselves by using the name of a man."[28]

George Sand is referenced a number of times in the play Voyage, the first part of Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia trilogy. And in the first episode of the "Overture" to Swann's Way—the first novel in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time sequence—a young, distraught Marcel is calmed by his mother as she reads from François le Champi, a novel which (it is explained) was part of a gift from his grandmother, which also included La Mare au Diable, La Petite Fadette, and Les Maîtres Sonneurs. As with many episodes involving art in À la recherche du temps perdu, this reminiscence includes commentary on the work. George Sand also makes an appearance in Isabel Allende's Zorro, going still by her given name, as a young girl in love with Diego de la Vega, i.e., Zorro.

In film

Actress Judy Davis portrays George Sand in James Lapine's 1991 British-American film Impromptu; while Juliette Binoche portrays Sand in the 1999 French film Children of the Century (Les Enfants du Siècle).



  • Rose et Blanche (1831, with Jules Sandeau)
  • Indiana (1832)
  • Valentine (1832)
  • Lélia (1833)
  • Andréa (1833)
  • Mattéa (1833)
  • Jacques (1833)
  • Kouroglou / Épopée Persane (1833)
  • Leone Leoni (1833)
  • André (1834)
  • La Marquise (1834)
  • Simon (1835)
  • Mauprat (1837)
  • Les Maîtres mosaïstes (The Master Mosaic Workers) (1837)
  • L'Oreo (1838)
  • L'Uscoque (The Uscoque, or The Corsair) (1838)
  • Spiridion (1839)
  • Pauline (1839)
  • Horace (1840)
  • Le Compagnon du tour de France (The Journeyman Joiner, or the Companion of the Tour of France) (1840)
  • Consuelo (1842)
  • La Comtesse de Rudolstadt (1843, a sequel to Consuelo)
  • Jeanne (1844)
  • Teverino (1845) (translated as Jealousy: Teverino)
  • Le Péché de M. Antoine (The Sin of M. Antoine) (1845)
  • Le Meunier d'Angibault (The Miller of Angibault) (1845)
  • La Mare au Diable (The Devil's Pool) (1846)
  • Lucrezia Floriani (1846)
  • François le Champi (The Country Waif) (1847)
  • La Petite Fadette (1849)
  • Château des Désertes (1850)
  • Histoire du véritable Gribouille (1851, translated as The Mysterious Tale of Gentle Jack and Lord Bumblebee)
  • Les Maîtres sonneurs (The Bagpipers) (1853)
  • La Daniella (1857)
  • Les Beaux Messiers de Bois-Dore (The Gallant Lords of Bois-Dore or The Fine Gentlemen of Bois-Dore) (1857)
  • Elle et Lui (She and He) (1859)
  • Narcisse (1859)
  • Jean de la Roche (1859)
  • L'Homme de neige (The Snow Man) ( 1859)
  • La Ville noire (The Black City) (1860)
  • Marquis de Villemer (1860)
  • Valvedre (1861)
  • Antonia (1863)
  • Mademoiselle La Quintinie (1863)
  • Laura, Voyage dans le cristal (Laura, or Voyage into the Crystal)(1864)
  • Monsieur Sylvestre (1866)
  • Le Dernier Amour (1866, dedicated to Flaubert)
  • Mademoiselle Merquem (1868)
  • Pierre Qui Roule (A Rolling Stone) (1870)
  • Le Beau Laurence (Handsome Lawrence) (1870, a sequel to Pierre Qui Roule)
  • Malgretout (1870)
  • Cesarine Dietrich (1871)
  • Nanon (1872)
  • Ma Soeur Jeanne (My Sister Jeannie) (1874)
  • Flamarande (1875)
  • Les Deux Freres (1875, a sequel to Flamarande)
  • Marianne (1876)
  • La Tour de Percemont (The Tower of Percemont) (1876)


  • Gabriel (1839)
  • Cosima ou La haine dans l'amour (1840)
  • Les Sept cordes de la lyre (translated as A Woman's Version of the Faust Legend: The Seven Strings of the Lyre) (1840)
  • François le Champi (1849)
  • Claudie (1851)
  • Le Mariage de Victorine (1851)
  • Le Pressoir (1853)
  • French adaptation of As You Like It (1856)
  • Le Pavé (1862, "The Paving Stone")
  • Le Marquis de Villemer (1864)
  • Le Lis du Japon (1866, "The Japanese Lily")
  • L'Autre (1870, with Sarah Bernhardt)
  • Un Bienfait n'est jamais perdu (1872, "A Good Deed Is Never Wasted")

See also



  1. ^ Dupin's first Christian name is sometimes rendered as "Amandine".
  2. ^ My Life by George Sand, translated from the French and adapted by Dan Hofstadter, Harper & Row, 1979.
  3. ^ Belinda Jack, George Sand, "Introduction".
  4. ^ Musée de la Vie Romantique (family tree), Paris: CBX41 [permanent dead link].
  5. ^ "George Sand | French novelist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  6. ^ Leduc, Edouard (2015-03-05), La Dame de Nohant: ou La vie passionnée de George Sand, Editions Publibook, pp. 30–, ISBN 978-2-342-03497-4
  7. ^ Szulc 1998, pp. 160, 165, 194–95.
  8. ^ Jack, Belinda, George Sand, Random House.
  9. ^ Museoin, Valldemossa.
  10. ^ Travers, Martin (ed.), European Literature from Romanticism to Postmodernism: A Reader in Aesthetic Practice, Continuum publishing, 2006, p. 97, ISBN 9780826439604
  11. ^ Pruszewicz, Marek (22 December 2014). "The mystery of Chopin's death". BBC. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  12. ^ Szulc 1998, p. 326.
  13. ^ From the correspondence of Sand and Chopin: Szulc 1998, p. 344.
  14. ^ Guillemin, Henri, "La Commune de Paris", Les archives de la RTS, Switzerland: RTS
  15. ^ Bédé 1986, p. 218.
  16. ^ Kristeva, Julia (1993). Proust and the Sense of Time. Columbia UP. p. 35. ISBN 9780231084789.
  17. ^ Paintault & Cerf 2004.
  18. ^ George Sand correspondence, edited by Pivot, Sylvain (2003)
  19. ^ Pritchett, V. S. (1985). "George Sand". A Man of Letters: Selected Essays. Random House. ISBN 978-0394549828.
  20. ^ Flaubert, Gustave; Turgenev, Ivan (1985). "George Sand". In Beaumont, Barbara. Flaubert and Turgenev: A Friendship in Letters : The Complete Correspondence. W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0393022063.
  21. ^ Prioleau, Betsy (2004). "George Sand". Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love. Penguin. ISBN 978-0143034223.
  22. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 41516). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  23. ^ "Will George Sand Join the Immortals in the Pantheon?". The Wall Street Journal. 30 January 2003. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  24. ^ "Ashes to ashes, Sand to sand". The Guardian. 13 September 2003. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  25. ^ Baudelaire, Charles (1975). Quennell, Peter, ed. My Heart Laid Bare. Trans. Norman Cameron. Haskell House. p. 184. ISBN 0-8383-1870-3.
  26. ^ Pasco, Allan H (2006), "George Sand", Nouvelles Françaises du Dix-Neuviéme Siécle: Anthologie (in French), Rookwood Press, p. 161.
  27. ^ Joseph Frank, Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time. Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 71; ISBN 1400833418.
  28. ^ Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, Penguin Books, 1929, p. 52; ISBN 9780141183534.


  • George Sand – Bicentennial Exhibition, Musée de la Vie romantique, Paris, 2004, curated by Jérôme Godeau. Contributions by Diane de Margerie, Yves Gagneux, Françoise Heilbrun, Isabelle Leroy-Jay Lemaistre, Claude Samuel, Arlette Sérullaz, Vincent Pomarède, Nicole Savy & Martine Reid.
  • Bédé, Jean-Albert (1986), "Sand, George", Encyclopedia Americana, 24, pp. 218–19.
  • Sand, George, Correspondence (letters) (see "Writings by George Sand").
  • Szulc, Tad (1998), Chopin in Paris: the Life and Times of the Romantic Composer, New York: Scribner, ISBN 0-684-82458-2.
  • Doumic, René – George Sand, some aspects of her life and writings at Project Gutenberg
  • In French:
  • Caro, Elme – George Sand at Project Gutenberg
  • Roy, Albert le – George Sand et ses amis at Project Gutenberg
    • Dictionnaire Encyclopédique de la Langue Française (3ième ed.)
  • Paintault, Micheline (Director); Cerf, Claudine (Author) (2004), George Sand: The Story of Her Life (DVD), France 5.
  • Yates, Jim (2007), Oh! Père Lachaise: Oscar's Wilde Purgatory, Édition d'Amèlie, ISBN 978-0-9555836-1-2 Oscar Wilde dreams of George Sand and is invited to a soirée at Nohant.

External links

  • George Sand—a site in memory of the 200th anniversary of the George Sand's birth (in French)
  • George Sand, her work in French free readable version (in French)
  • George Sand, her work in audio version Speaker Icon.svg(in French)
  • Works by George Sand at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about George Sand at Internet Archive
  • Works by George Sand at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • Wikisource Storr, Francis (1911). "Sand, George". Encyclopædia Britannica. 24 (11th ed.). pp. 131–135.
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