(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Consuelo has many of the faults of early romantic novels and has been saved from oblivion only by the fact that George Sand was far more intelligent and talented than the average author of popular romances. She frequently digresses from her rambling narrative to lecture on a variety of subjects, including history, famous personalities of the eighteenth century, music, architecture, fashions, furnishings, social conditions, and human nature. Chapter 56 contains an essay on folk art which displays Sand’s intelligence, learning, and socialistic ideology; chapter 74 contains a poetic essay on loneliness; chapter 97 contains a moving description of the silence and mystery of an empty theater; and chapter 101 contains an eloquent discussion of the function of art.

The whole novel demonstrates Sand’s extraordinary musical knowledge. The superior quality of her writing is attributable to her keen intelligence, her breadth of self-education, and her associations with many of the greatest personalities of her time, including poet Alfred de Musset, composer Frédéric Chopin, and novelist Gustave Flaubert.

The modern reader may find it difficult to believe in the novel’s grotesque characters or melodramatic events, which were in keeping with the traditions of the romantic novel developed by such writers as Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823). A minor character named Zdenko will remind many readers of the deformed, demented Igor in the film...

(The entire section is 430 words.)