Last reviewed: June 2018
July 1, 1804
June 8, 1876
In Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dudevant, née Dupin, known to posterity as George Sand (sahnd), were united two quite dissimilar lines of heredity. On the mother’s side her origins were obscure; Sophie Delaborde, a humble Parisian modiste, was a bird-trainer’s daughter. On the father’s side her pedigree was brilliant; Maurice Dupin was a dashing officer only a few generations removed from royalty, being the son of M. Dupin de Francueil (who had numbered among his friends Jean-Jacques Rousseau) and of Marie Aurore, a granddaughter of Augustus the Strong of Saxony. Maurice Dupin and his wife Sophie were married in the late spring of 1804, and their child Aurore was born in Paris on July 1. In 1808 Dupin was killed in a fall from horseback. Submitting to necessity, Sophie turned the little girl over to the haughty Mme Dupin de Francueil, who undertook the responsibility for the child’s education. Reared at the family estate of Nohant, Aurore was privately tutored and, at thirteen, was sent for schooling to the Convent des Dames Anglaises in Paris, where she remained three years. At eighteen, her grandmother having died, she was married to Casimir Dudevant, and she soon bore a son and a daughter. In 1831 she left her husband and took up residence in Paris. George Sand
Fully aware of her literary genius, she resolved to maintain herself by writing and to carve out a place of eminence in the world of letters. Her first intimate association, dating from 1831, was with a young advocate, Jules Sandeau, with whom she collaborated on two novels, both signed “J. Sand.” The next novel, Indiana, she wrote alone, but she issued it in 1832 under the name Georges Sand; this name, anglicized soon afterward, became her invariable pseudonym. This novel earned Sand instant notoriety for her harsh criticisms of marriage and the oppression of traditional female roles. Having quarreled with Sandeau, she entered into a liaison with Alfred de Musset and accompanied him to Italy. In Venice she fell ill; while recovering, she had an affair with her physician. The consequent rift between herself and Musset was never closed. In 1837, Franz Liszt arranged an introduction between George Sand and Frederic Chopin, whose love she succeeded in winning after some difficulty. The next winter she escorted Chopin, who was in fragile health, to the island of Majorca, where for a few months they lodged in a half-ruined monastery. The nine-year period of their alliance was for both a time of splendid artistic productivity. She manifested strong political interests in the 1840’s while engaged, paradoxically, in the writing of her pastoral novels. A few years later, she retired to her childhood home at Nohant and passed the remainder of her life there, dying on June 8, 1876.
George Sand’s novels may be classified as belonging to four main periods of development. In her first or feminist period, from 1832 to about 1837, they reflected her emotional rebellion against the bonds of marriage. The most notable novels from this period are Indiana and Lélia. In her second period, ending about 1845, the work acquired a larger consciousness of social and philosophical problems; this awareness gave rise not only to the socialist novels—The Companion of the Tour of France (also known as The Journeyman Joiner), The Miller of Angibault, and The Sin of Monsieur Antoine—but also to Consuelo and The Countess of Rudolstadt. Some of these works influenced the American poet Walt Whitman. In her third or pastoral period, ending about 1856, her novels presented chiefly rural scenes and peasant characters; such was the case with The Devil’s Pool, Francis the Waif, and Little Fadette. In her final period, up to 1876, her fiction explored a wide variety of themes in an increasingly vigorous style. Among the best of her later novels are The Marquis of Villemer and the anticlerical Mademoiselle la Quintinie.