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...
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