George Sand
George Sand.PNG
Portrait of George Sand by Auguste Charpentier (1838)
Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin

(1804-07-01)1 July 1804
Paris, France
Died8 June 1876(1876-06-08) (aged 71)
Nohant-Vic, France
(m. 1822; separated 1835)
ChildrenMaurice Sand
Solange Dudevant
  • Maurice Dupin (father)
  • Sophie-Victoire Delaborde (mother)

Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin[1] (French: [amɑ̃tin lysil oʁɔʁ dypɛ̃]; 1 July 1804 – 8 June 1876), best known by her pen name George Sand (French: [ʒɔʁʒ sɑ̃d]), was a French novelist, memoirist, and journalist.[2][3] One of the most popular writers in Europe in her lifetime,[4] being more renowned than both Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac in England in the 1830s and 1840s,[5] Sand is recognised as one of the most notable writers of the European Romantic era.

Personal life

George Sand[6] – known to her friends and family as "Aurore" – was born in Paris and was raised for much of her childhood by her grandmother Marie-Aurore de Saxe, Madame Dupin de Francueil, at her grandmother's house in the village of Nohant, in the French province of Berry.[7] Sand inherited the house in 1821 when her grandmother died; she used the setting in many of her novels.

Her father, Maurice Dupin, was the grandson of the Marshal General of France, Maurice, Comte de Saxe (an out-of-wedlock son of Augustus II the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony), and a sixth cousin of Kings Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X of France.[8] She was also more distantly related to King Louis Philippe of France through common ancestors from German and Danish ruling families. Sand's mother, Sophie-Victoire Delaborde, was a commoner.[9]

Portrait of George Sand by Thomas Sully, 1826
Portrait of George Sand by Thomas Sully, 1826

Gender expression

Aurore Dupin meeting General Murat in her uniform, illustrated by H. J. Ford in 1913
Aurore Dupin meeting General Murat in her uniform, illustrated by H. J. Ford in 1913

Sand was one of many notable 19th-century women who chose to wear male attire in public. In 1800, the police issued an order requiring women to apply for a permit in order to wear male clothing. Some women applied for health, occupational, or recreational reasons (e.g., horse riding), but many women chose to wear pants and other traditional male attire in public without receiving a permit.[10][better source needed]

Sand was one of the women who wore men's clothing without a permit, justifying it as being less expensive and far sturdier than the typical dress of a noblewoman at the time. In addition to being comfortable, Sand's male attire enabled her to circulate more freely in Paris than most of her female contemporaries and gave her increased access to venues that barred women, even those of her social standing.[11][12] 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, although Franz Liszt's paramour Marie d'Agoult affected this as well, smoking large cigars.

While there were many contemporary critics of her comportment, many people accepted her behaviour until they became shocked with the subversive tone of her novels.[5] Those who found her writing admirable were not bothered by her ambiguous or rebellious public behaviour.

Victor Hugo commented, "George Sand cannot determine whether she is male or female. I entertain a high regard for all my colleagues, but it is not my place to decide whether she is my sister or my brother."[13]

Notable relationships

George Sand by Nadar, 1864
George Sand by Nadar, 1864

In 1822, at the age of eighteen, Sand married (François) Casimir Dudevant,[14] an out-of-wedlock son of Baron Jean-François Dudevant. She and Dudevant had two children: Maurice and Solange (1828–1899). In 1825, she had an intense but perhaps platonic affair with the young lawyer Aurélien de Sèze.[15] 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 custody of their children.[16]

Sand had romantic affairs with the novelist Jules Sandeau (1831), the writer Prosper Mérimée, the dramatist Alfred de Musset (summer 1833 – March 1835), Louis-Chrysostome Michel, the actor Pierre-François Bocage, the writer Charles Didier, the novelist Félicien Mallefille, the politician Louis Blanc, and the composer Frédéric Chopin (1837–1847).[17] Later in her 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 romantic relationship with actress Marie Dorval.[18]

Relationship with Chopin

Sand spent the winter of 1838–1839 with Chopin in Mallorca at the (formerly abandoned) Carthusian monastery of Valldemossa.[19] The trip to Mallorca was described in her Un hiver à Majorque (A Winter in Majorca), first published in 1841.[20] Chopin was already ill with incipient tuberculosis at the beginning of their relationship, and spending a cold and wet winter in Mallorca where they could not get proper lodgings exacerbated his symptoms.[21]

Sand and Chopin also spent many long summers at Sand's country manor in Nohant from 1839 to 1846, skipping only 1840. [22]There, Chopin wrote many of his most famous works, including the Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49, Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 58, and the Ballade No. 3 Op. 47.

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 greatly through her affection for Karol.[23] Though Sand claimed not to have made a cartoon out of Chopin, the book's publication and widespread readership may have exacerbated their later antipathy towards each other. After Chopin's death, Sand burned much of their correspondence, leaving only four surviving letters between the two.[24] Three of the letters were published in the "Classiques Garnier" series in 1968.[24]

Sand as Mary Magdalene in a sketch by Louis Boulanger
Sand as Mary Magdalene in a sketch by Louis Boulanger

Another breach was caused by Chopin's attitude toward Sand's daughter, Solange.[25] Chopin continued to be cordial to Solange after Solange and her husband Auguste Clésinger fell out with Sand over money. Sand took Chopin's support of Solange to be extremely disloyal, and confirmation that Chopin had always "loved" Solange.[26]

Sand's son Maurice disliked Chopin. Maurice wanted to establish himself as the "man of the estate" and did not wish to have Chopin as a rival. Maurice removed two sentences from a letter Sand wrote to Chopin when he published it because he felt that Sand was too affectionate toward Chopin and Solange.[24]

Chopin and Sand separated two years before his death for a variety of reasons.[27] 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 1849. George Sand was notably absent from his funeral.[28]


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.[29] In 2003, plans that her remains be moved to the Panthéon in Paris resulted in controversy.[30][31]

Career and politics

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

Sand's first literary efforts were collaborations with the writer Jules Sandeau. They published several stories together, signing them Jules Sand. Sand's first published novel Rose et Blanche (1831) was written in collaboration with Sandeau.[32] She subsequently adopted, for her first independent novel, Indiana (1832), the pen name that made her famous – George Sand.[33]

By the age of 27, Sand was Europe's most popular writer of either gender,[4] more popular than both Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac in England in the 1830s and 1840s,[5] and she remained immensely popular as a writer throughout her lifetime and long after her death. Early in her career, her work was in high demand; by 1836, the first of several compendia of her writings was published in 24 volumes.[34][35] In total, four separate editions of her "Complete Works" were published during her lifetime. In 1880, her children sold the rights to her literary estate for 125,000 Francs[34] (equivalent to 36 kg worth of gold, or 1.3 million dollars in 2015 USD[36]).

Drawing from her childhood experiences of the countryside, Sand wrote the pastoral novels La Mare au Diable (1846), François le Champi (1847–1848), La Petite Fadette (1849), and Les Beaux Messieurs de Bois-Doré (1857).[37] 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.[citation needed]

Political views

Sand also wrote literary criticism and political texts. In her early life, she sided with the poor and working class as well as championing women's rights. When the 1848 Revolution began, she was an ardent republican. Sand started her own newspaper, published in a workers' co-operative.[38]

Politically, she became very active after 1841 and the leaders of the day often consulted with her and took her advice. She was a member of the provisional government of 1848, issuing a series of fiery manifestos. While many Republicans were imprisoned or went to exile after Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte's coup d’état of December 1851, she remained in France, maintained an ambiguous relationship with the new regime, and negotiated pardons and reduced sentences for her friends.[4]

Sand was known for her implication and writings during the Paris Commune of 1871, where she took a position for the Versailles assembly against the communards, urging them to take violent action against the rebels.[39] She was appalled by the violence of the Paris Commune, writing, "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."[40]


George Sand was an idea. She has a unique place in our age.
Others are great men ... she was a great woman.

Victor Hugo, Les funérailles de George Sand[41]

Sand's writing was immensely popular during her lifetime and she was highly respected by the literary and cultural elite in France. Victor Hugo, in the eulogy he gave at her funeral, said "the lyre was within her."[42]

In this country whose law is to complete the French Revolution and begin that of the equality of the sexes, being a part of the equality of men, a great woman was needed. It was necessary to prove that a woman could have all the manly gifts without losing any of her angelic qualities, be strong without ceasing to be tender ... George Sand proved it.

— Victor Hugo, Les funérailles de George Sand

Eugène Delacroix was a close friend and respected her literary gifts.[44] 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."[45][46] Alfred de Vigny referred to her as "Sappho".[42]

Not all of her contemporaries admired her or her writing: poet Charles Baudelaire was one contemporary critic of George Sand:[47] "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."[48]

Influences on literature

Sand sews while Chopin plays piano, in a hypothetical reconstruction of Delacroix's 1838 painting, Portrait of Frédéric Chopin and George Sand
Sand sews while Chopin plays piano, in a hypothetical reconstruction of Delacroix's 1838 painting, Portrait of Frédéric Chopin and George Sand

Fyodor Dostoevsky "read widely in the numerous novels of George Sand" and translated her La dernière Aldini in 1844, only to learn that it had already been published in Russian.[49] In his mature period, he expressed an ambiguous attitude towards her. For instance, in his novella Notes from Underground, the narrator refers to sentiments he express as, "I launch off at that point into European, inexplicably lofty subtleties a la George Sand".[50]

The English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61) wrote two poems: "To George Sand: A Desire" (1853) and "To George Sand: A Recognition". 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.

In addition to her influences on English and Russian literature, Sand's writing and political views informed numerous 19th century authors in Spain and Latin America, including Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, the Cuban-born writer who also published and lived in Spain.[51] Critics have noted structural and thematic similarities between George Sand's Indiana, published in 1832, and Gómez de Avellaneda's anti-slavery novel Sab, published in 1841.[51]

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.

Sand is also referred to in Virginia Woolf's book-length essay A Room of One's Own along with George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë as "all victims of inner strife as their writings prove, sought ineffectively to veil themselves by using the name of a man."[52]

Frequent literary references to George Sand appear in Possession (1990) by A. S. Byatt and in the play Voyage, the first part of Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia trilogy (2002). George Sand 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 (Zorro).[citation needed]

Chopin, Sand and her children are the main characters of the theater play by Polish writer Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz "A Summer in Nohant", which premiered in 1930. The play, presenting the final stage of the writer-composer's relationship, was adapted five times by Polish Television: in 1963 (with Antonina Gordon-Górecka as Sand and Gustaw Holoubek as Chopin), in 1972 (with Halina Mikołajska and Leszek Herdegen), in 1980 (with Anna Polony and Michał Pawlicki), in 1999 (with Joanna Szczepkowska, who portrayed Solange in the 1980 version and Piotr Skiba) and in 2021 (with Katarzyna Herman and Marek Kossakowski).

In film

George Sand is portrayed by Merle Oberon in A Song to Remember,[53] by Patricia Morison in Song Without End,[54] by Rosemary Harris in Notorious Woman,[55] by Judy Davis in James Lapine's 1991 British-American film Impromptu;[56] and by Juliette Binoche in the 1999 French film Children of the Century (Les Enfants du siècle).[57] Also in George Who? (French: George qui?), a 1973 French biographical film directed by Michèle Rosier and starring Anne Wiazemsky as George Sand, Alain Libolt and Denis Gunsbourg. In the 2002 Polish film Chopin: Desire for Love directed by Jerzy Antczak George Sand is portrayed by Danuta Stenka. In the French film Flashback (2021 film) directed by Caroline Vigneaux, George Sand is portrayed by Suzanne Clément.




Source: "George Sand (1804–1876) – Auteur du texte". Bibliothèque nationale de France. Retrieved 12 June 2019.

See also



  1. ^ Dupin's first Christian name is sometimes rendered as "Amandine".
  2. ^ Hart, Kathleen (2004). Revolution and Women's Autobiography in Nineteenth-century France. Rodopi. p. 91.
  3. ^ Lewis, Linda M. (2003). Germaine de Staël, George Sand, and the Victorian Woman Artist. University of Missouri Press. p. 48.
  4. ^ a b c Eisler, Benita (8 June 2018). "'George Sand' Review: Monstre Sacré". WSJ. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Thomson, Patricia (July 1972). "George Sand and English Reviewers: The First Twenty Years". Modern Language Review. 67 (3): 501–516. doi:10.2307/3726119. JSTOR 3726119.
  6. ^ "George Sand".
  7. ^ "George Sand | French novelist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  8. ^ Musée de la Vie Romantique (family tree), Paris: CBX41, archived from the original on 2 January 2013.
  9. ^ Sand, George (1982). Lelia. Maria Espinosa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-33318-6. OCLC 694516159.
  10. ^ "Clothes Make the (Wo)man? Pants Permits in Nineteenth-Century Paris". 2 September 2015.
  11. ^ Siegfried, Susan L.; Finkelberg, John (3 September 2020). "Fashion in the Life of George Sand". Fashion Theory: 1–35. doi:10.1080/1362704X.2020.1794202. ISSN 1362-704X. S2CID 225330185 – via Taylor and Francis Online.
  12. ^ Barry, Joseph (1976). "The Wholeness of George Sand". Nineteenth-Century French Studies. 4 (4): 469–487. ISSN 0146-7891. JSTOR 44627396 – via JSTOR.
  13. ^ "Classic Women Authors in Men's Clothing: Expressing the Masculine". 15 September 2017.
  14. ^ "George Sand | French novelist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  15. ^ Leduc, Edouard (2015), La Dame de Nohant: ou La vie passionnée de George Sand, Editions Publibook, pp. 30–, ISBN 978-2-342-03497-4
  16. ^ Eisler, Benita (8 June 2018). "'George Sand' Review: Monstre Sacré". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  17. ^ Szulc 1998, pp. 160, 165, 194–95.
  18. ^ Jack, Belinda, George Sand, Random House.
  19. ^ Museoin, Valldemossa.
  20. ^ Travers, Martin (ed.), European Literature from Romanticism to Postmodernism: A Reader in Aesthetic Practice, Continuum publishing, 2006, p. 97, ISBN 978-0826439604
  21. ^ Pruszewicz, Marek (22 December 2014). "The mystery of Chopin's death". BBC News. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Nohant, Indre: Frédéric Chopin and George Sand". 16 September 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2022.
  23. ^ Szulc 1998, p. 326.
  24. ^ a b c Belotti, Gastone; Sand, George; Weiss, Piero (1966). "Three Unpublished Letters by George Sand and Their Contribution to Chopin Scholarship". The Musical Quarterly. 52 (3): 283–303. doi:10.1093/mq/LII.3.283. ISSN 0027-4631. JSTOR 3085958.
  25. ^ Jensen, Katharine Ann (1 February 2013). "The Chopin Affair: George Sand's Rivalry with her Daughter". Nineteenth-Century Contexts. 35 (1): 41–64. doi:10.1080/08905495.2013.770617. ISSN 0890-5495. S2CID 193206245.
  26. ^ From the correspondence of Sand and Chopin: Szulc 1998, p. 344
  27. ^ "Frédéric Chopin and George Sand: A Collaborative Union | The Romantic Piano". WQXR. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  28. ^ Eisler, Benita (20 April 2003). "Excerpted from 'Chopin's Funeral'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "Will George Sand Join the Immortals in the Pantheon?". The Wall Street Journal. 30 January 2003. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  31. ^ "Ashes to ashes, Sand to sand". The Guardian. 13 September 2003. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  32. ^ "J. Sand : Rose et Blanche".
  33. ^ Bédé 1986, p. 218.
  34. ^ a b "L'Édition complète des œuvres de George Sand " chaos pour le lecteur " ou essai de poétique éditoriale". George Sand : Pratiques et imaginaires de l'écriture. Colloques de Cerisy. Presses universitaires de Caen. 30 March 2017. pp. 381–393. ISBN 978-2841338023.
  35. ^ "Oeuvres complètes | George Sand | sous la direction de Béatrice Didier | 1836–1837".
  36. ^ "Historical Currency Converter".
  37. ^ Kristeva, Julia (1993). Proust and the Sense of Time. Columbia UP. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-231-08478-9.
  38. ^ Paintault & Cerf 2004.
  39. ^ Guillemin, Henri (13 August 2009), "La Commune de Paris", Les archives de la RTS, Switzerland: RTS
  40. ^ Sand, edited by Pivot, Sylvain (2003)
  41. ^ Saturday Review. Saturday Review. 1876. pp. 771ff.
  42. ^ a b Anna Livia; Kira Hall (1997). Queerly Phrased: Language, Gender, and Sexuality. Oxford University Press. pp. 157ff. ISBN 978-0-19-535577-2.
  43. ^ Saturday Review0. Saturday Review. 1876. pp. 771ff.
  44. ^ "George Sand's Garden at Nohant". Archived from the original on 25 October 2018. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  45. ^ Pasco, Allan H. (2006). "George Sand". Nouvelles Françaises du Dix-Neuviéme Siécle: Anthologie (in French). Rookwood Press. p. 161.
  46. ^ Orr, Lyndon. "The Story of George Sand". Famous Affinities of History.
  47. ^ Robb, Graham (21 February 2005). "The riddle of Miss Sand". Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  48. ^ Baudelaire, Charles (1975). Quennell, Peter (ed.). My Heart Laid Bare. Translated by Norman Cameron. Haskell House. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-8383-1870-6.
  49. ^ Joseph Frank, Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time. Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 71; ISBN 1400833418.
  50. ^ Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground, Project Gutenberg.
  51. ^ a b Beyer, Sandra; Kluck, Frederick (1991). "George Sand and Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda". Nineteenth-Century French Studies. 19 (2): 203–209. JSTOR 23532148 – via JSTOR.
  52. ^ Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, Penguin Books, 1929, p. 52; ISBN 978-0141183534.
  53. ^ A Song to Remember at the American Film Institute Catalog
  54. ^ Song Without End at the American Film Institute Catalog
  55. ^ O'Connor, John J. (20 November 1975). "TV: 'Notorious Woman'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  56. ^ Impromptu at AllMovie
  57. ^ Les Enfants du siècle (2000) at the British Film Institute

General sources

Further reading