Lecture Series

George Sand: her life, her work, her time

This series took place onFrom to
Back to the series

Anna Caballé

George Sand (birth name Aurore Dupin) became one of the writers most widely known, discussed and influential of the European Romantic generation. This was due to the moral courage of her works, but above all, due to the life she chose to live renouncing to the puritan rules that governed the existence of women in those times. She was the objective of countless judgments equally praising and condemning her. And this was due to the freedom of her love behavior, her usual masculine way of dressing, her sense of business, the intensity of the family passions that surrounded her, and her exceptional talent for thought and literature. George Sands left no one indifferent. Lamartine attempted trivializing the work and feminist orientation of the French author by stating in Cours familier de littérature that she was a woman that had lost her sex in a battle with her genius. And he was not the only one to present her masculinization as the only possible reason explaining her intelectual activity. Flaubert, who was a friend of his, pointed out the immense femininity present in that "great man", Chateaubriand would define her as “le lord Byron de la France”, while Baudelaire, a ferocious adversary of the writer, would angrily say "the fact that some men have been able to fall crazily in love with that latrine is a proof of the degradation of men in this century". Baudelaire could not accept that the literary creations became a consumer good, and even less, that they reached popular success. For him the only option was transcending a vile world. Sand on the other hand, believed that separating ideals from life could never benefit the later, the common good.

Her influence was huge over the first Spanish woman writers who devoted to their literary vocation with professional dedication. Her novels were translated and adapted (ConsueloLéliaIndianaLa Mare au diable or François le Champ, just to name a few). Fernán Caballero (Cecilia Böhl de Faber) or Víctor Català (Caterina Albert) would also choose masculine pseudonyms using Sand as an example and reference. Nevertheless, the freedom of action that George Sand applied along her entire life was something unconceivable in the Spanish society of the time, so there were frequent notes and observations aimed at clearly being differentiated from the radical existential philosophy practiced by the French author. In this sense, George Sand had no followers in Spain. Her dense autobiographical writings, mostly composed of thousands of letters published in 25 volumes by Georges Lubin, as well as her autobiography (Histoire de ma vie, 1854-55), allow us to have a good knowledge of her biography and ideas. Later, the biography of the writer published by André Maurois in 1952 brought again attention over her figure, and since then the reviews of her legacy have been continuous. Within the Hispanic framework, her book Un invierno en MallorcaUn hiver à Majorque) is of particular importance. It is a text describing her short experience together with Chopin in the Balearic island, and which was not particularly appreciated by the island inhabitants. And additional reason to speculate about her figure. In any case, the life and work of Sand are completely inseparable because they are two faces of the same quest, the quest of a pioneer woman fighting courageously to find her place in the world.