(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When Flaubert and Sand began their thirteen-year friendship, both had acquired controversial reputations in France’s literary and social circles. Born Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin, George Sand was an accomplished writer of plays, novels and articles. She was renowned for her tumultuous affairs with Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), novelist, playwright and poet, and the composer Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). Her early works, autobiographical in inspiration, evoke a quest for love and happiness. In such lyrical novels as INDIANA (1832) and LELIA (1833), Sand recounts the torments experienced by women who must struggle against their passions. In the last twenty-five years of her life, Sand lived tranquilly, and works written during this time communicate a humanitarian view of existence, her love of nature and of rustic life.

Seventeen years younger than she, Flaubert, afflicted with a nerve-related illness, abandoned his law studies in Paris in 1844, and from that time devoted himself exclusively to his writing. In 1856, LA REVUE DE PARIS published in serial form MADAME BOVARY, subsequently to appear in its entirety in 1857. The work depicts the illicit involvements of Emma Bovary, torn between a life of illusory romance and the reality of her brutish husband; it provoked enormous controversy, as many critics rushed to denounce the immorality of the main character—and of her creator.

This correspondence is one of the most noteworthy of the past...

(The entire section is 428 words.)