1804 – 1876 A.D.
George Sand, the nom de plume of Armandine L. A. (Dupin) Dudevant, a French novelist, born in Paris. Her earlier years were spent at Nohant, one of the loveliest districts of France, where she imbibed that passion for rural life which always characterized her. She was persuaded by her parents in 1822 to marry Casimir Dudevant, a country squire. Nine years she endured, what was to her, matrimonial martyrdom; then a formal separation was agreed upon, and she proceeded to Paris with her two children, to whom she was devoted.
She now became associated with Jules Sandeau, from the first half of whose name her pseudonym was taken, and in 1832 she brought out her first important novel, Indiana, which created a furore of interest, and had a brilliant success, though it excited much criticism by its extreme views on social questions. From now on, during a period of forty years, this most prolific of woman writers poured forth a steady stream of literary production, her complete works, when published in Paris amounting to 120 volumes. She wrote with the rapidity of Walter Scott and the regularity of Anthony Trollope. For years her custom was to retire to her desk at ten p.m., and not rise from it till five a.m.
Her life was as strange and adventurous as any of her novels, which were for the most part idealized versions of the multifarious incidents of her career. In her self-revelations she followed Rousseau, her first master in style, but while Rousseau in his Confessions darkened all the shadows, George Sand is the heroine of her story, often frail and faulty, but always a woman more sinned against than sinning. Her curious existence has been described as “a youth of dream, a womanhood of racket and license, and an old age of laborious calm.”
She was more or less intimately associated at various times with a number of famous men, notably Alfred de Musset, the poet, and Frederic Chopin, the composer. She died at Nohant where she had spent her childhood. To a youth and womanhood of storm and stress had succeeded an old age of serene activity and then of calm decay. Her nights were spent in writing, which seemed in her case a relaxation from the real business of the day, playing with her grandchildren, gardening, conversing with her visitors – it might be Balzac or Dumas or Matthew Arnold – or writing long letters to Sainte-Beuve or Flaubert.
George Saintsbury, the English critic, says:
“The popularity of George Sand like that of most very voluminous authors, has sunk considerably since her death. Nor have critical estimates invariably agreed about her. The one thing which both friends and foes accord her is the possession of a most remarkable style, and to this gift may be added a faculty of imagination which always idealised the subject and treatment to the point necessary to fix the work as literature.”
Sainte-Beauve, her intimate friend for more than thirty years, but never her lover, wrote:
“In the great crises of action her intellect, her heart and her temperament are at one. She is concerned for universal happiness and takes thought for the improvement of mankind – the last infirmity and most innocent mania of generous souls. Her works are in very deed the echo of our times. Wherever we were all wounded and stricken her heart bled in sympathy, and all our maladies and miseries evoked from her a lyric wail.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.