George Sand Biography


(History of the World: The 19th Century)
0111204723-Sand.jpg George Sand (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Article abstract: Sand contributed to nineteenth century French literature a prodigious number of important romantic novels, travel writings, and political essays.

Early Life

In many ways, George Sand’s early life reads like one of her more improbable romantic novels, with her socially mismatched parents, her eccentric aristocratic grandmother, her unorthodox tutors, her flirtation with Catholicism, her unfortunate marriage, her idealistic quest for love, and her close proximity to the political upheavals of her age.

She was born Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, in Paris, in 1804, the year of Napoleon I’s coronation. When Aurore was only four years old, her father, Maurice Dupin, a dashing officer in Napoleon’s army, and a grandson of the illustrious Marshal of Saxe, was thrown from a Spanish stallion and died instantly. Aurore was left alternately in the care of her mother, Sophie, the lowborn daughter of a tavern keeper, and her fraternal grandmother, Mme Dupin de Francueil, a woman of aristocratic background and tastes.

Aurore endured the constant emotional and social friction between her two guardians until 1817, when she was sent to the Couvent des Anglaises in Paris to finish her education. At the convent, she was much appreciated by the nuns, despite her somewhat headstrong ways, and even felt the mystical attractions of a religious vocation. In 1820, to circumvent her taking the veil, Mme Dupin de Francueil brought Aurore home to the family estate at Nohant in Berry. There she learned to ride cross-saddle with her brother Hippolyte Chatiron, began to wear men’s clothing for riding, and was taught to shoot by Stephane Ajasson de Grandsagne.

In the summer of 1821, Aurore’s grandmother had a severe stroke, and Aurore nursed Mme Dupin de Francueil, an unusually difficult patient, until her death in December of the same year. Shortly afterward, in September of 1822, Aurore married Second Lieutenant Casimir Dudevant, bringing him a large estate of 400,000 francs. Her first child, Maurice Dudevant, was born in June of 1823. Her second child, Solange, probably fathered by Stephane Ajasson de Grandsagne, was born in September of 1828, and signaled the continued deterioration of her hasty marriage to the then-financially dependent and increasingly unpleasant Casimir.

In 1831, Aurore left her husband, and Nohant, for Paris, where she lived with her literary mentor, Jules Sandeau. Together, they coauthored articles for the French publication Le Figaro and, under the pen name Jules Sand, published an apprentice novel, Rose et Blanche (1831). In the early 1830’s, Paris was in turmoil, in the aftermath of the July Revolution, and Aurore Dudevant was writing her first independent novel, to be published under the pseudonym George Sand.

Life’s Work

In May of 1832, Indiana (English translation, 1833) was published. It was an immediate popular and critical success, launching a distinguished literary career which was to flourish unabated for forty-four prolific years. Sand followed up her first triumph rapidly, in only six short months, with an equally relished novel, Valentine (1832; English translation, 1902). This short period of time between novels was a good indication of the famous, almost notorious, fluency with which Sand was to write throughout her life. In 1832, she published Lélia (English translation, 1978), and these three early works, along with the ones that followed, Jacques (1834; English translation, 1847) and Mauprat (1837; English translation, 1870), were typical of Sand’s characteristic concerns: the relationship between men and women, class differences in French society, marriage laws and conventions, and the romantic quest for passionate love. There is no question that Sand, when writing these early novels, was drawing on the experience of her own socially mixed parentage, her unhappy union with Casimir Dudevant, and her passionate but troublesome affair with the poet Alfred de Musset.

Critical interest in Sand’s life and loves has always competed with interest in her works, and this is not surprising when one considers how much they are intertwined. It was, in fact, her ill-fated trip to Venice with Musset in 1833 that provided the material for her highly acclaimed Lettres d’un voyageur (1837; Letters of a Traveller, 1847), as well as the later novel Elle et lui (1859; She and He, 1902). Consuelo (1842-1843; English translation, 1846), the story of a charming prima donna, which evokes so beautifully the musical world of the eighteenth century, was written during her long liaison with Frédéric Chopin. With George Sand, life and art seem always to imitate each other.

The works...

(The entire section is 1983 words.)

George Sand Biography

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

A leader in the Romantic movement in literature, a feminist libertine, and a socialist champion of the working class, George Sand advocated freedom of the press throughout her career. Her novels and political writings outraged bourgeois sensibilities and challenged the conventions that the middle class held absolute.

Born to an aristocratic father and a woman of humbler social origin, Sand was raised by her paternal grandmother, then sent to a convent in Paris. At eighteen she married Baron Dudevant but, finding conjugal life oppressive, left him in 1831 for a young writer, Jules Sandeau, whose surname she adapted for her pen name. Sand’s subsequent extramarital liaisons, most notably with Alfred de Musset and Frédéric Chopin, but also with persons of her own sex, scandalized Paris. Her lifestyle was bohemian, she wore men’s clothing, smoked cigars, and used her masculine pen name in public.

In 1848 Sand was unofficial minister of propaganda for the republican revolutionaries in Paris. However, she disassociated herself from radical feminist attempts to have her elected to the National Assembly because she deemed political equality for women premature. In the government suppression of radical elements that followed the unsuccessful republican coup, she was accused of conspiracy, but was not arrested. Her popularity suffered, however, and she gave up political writing.

Sand’s early novels, including Indiana...

(The entire section is 470 words.)

George Sand Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

George Sand was born Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin in Paris on July 1, 1804, to parents who had been married scarcely a month. Her father, Maurice Dupin, was a descendant through bastard lines of the king of Poland, Augustus the Strong, and her mother, Sophie Delaborde, was a camp follower and the daughter of a Paris bird seller. Thus, from the beginning, Sand was exposed to the class struggle. When she was four years old, her father was killed in a fall from a horse; three years later, her mother gave up custody of her to her aristocratic maternal grandmother, who brought her up as a lady at her country estate of Nohant in the Berry region. Sand nevertheless reached out to her mother in Paris and the working class she represented.

In 1817, Sand returned to Paris, where she entered the Couvent des Anglaises for her education. In 1820, she returned to the country while her grandmother attempted to arrange a suitable marriage for her; Sand preferred to read books and ride horses. After the death of her grandmother in 1821, Sand returned to Paris to live with her mother. This arrangement proved unsatisfactory because of her mother’s violent temper, and the girl sought refuge at the country estate of her father’s friends, the Roëttiers. Through the Roëttiers, she met Casimir François Dudevant, the illegitimate but recognized son of a baron; she married Dudevant in 1822.

At first, the couple seemed happy enough, but after the birth of their son Maurice in 1823, their incompatibility became evident. A second child, Solange, was born in 1828. After a fight with her husband, Sand arranged to spend half of each year in Paris, where Dudevant would send her an allowance from the revenues of her land. In 1831, she left for Paris to live with Jules Sandeau, a law student who aspired to become a writer. To supplement her meager pension, Sand obtained a job writing for Le Figaro, a newspaper run by Hyacinthe de Latouche, an acquaintance from Berry. In collaboration with Sandeau, Sand wrote several short stories and at least one novel, which was signed “J. Sand.” When Sand wrote Indiana alone at Nohant and returned to Paris to publish it, de Latouche suggested that she keep the name “Sand” and choose another Christian name. She chose“Georges” (soon anglicized to George) because it seemed to her to be typical of the Berry...

(The entire section is 967 words.)

George Sand Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

George Sand (sahnd), as she chose to be known from 1832 onward, was born Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin on July 1, 1804, in Paris, France. Through her father, Maurice Dupin, Aurore was descended from an aristocratic line that included King Frederic-Augustus II of Poland. Her father gave up early musical aspirations for a career as a military officer. Through her mother, Sophie Delabord, Aurore was descended from the opposite end of the social scale. Sophie lived by her wits and had entered marriage to Maurice Dupin with a daughter (Caroline) from a previous relationship. Aurore’s imperious, aristocratic grandmother, Marie-Aurore Dupin, had little tolerance for Sophie or Caroline. When Aurore was four years old, Maurice Dupin was...

(The entire section is 1005 words.)

George Sand Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

George Sand was part of the Romantic movement and followed the idealistic eighteenth century philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who believed in humanity’s innate morality and goodness that was without the need for social convention or organized religion. The effect of Sand’s putting Rousseau’s moral theories into living practice, while simultaneously popularizing them in her novels, must not be underestimated. The personal freedom enjoyed by women of the Western world is in part a monument to her success.

(The entire section is 80 words.)

George Sand Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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...

(The entire section is 648 words.)