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Book Title: She & he|
The author of the book: George Sand
ISBN 13: 9780915864843
Edition: Cassandra Editions
Date of issue: 1978
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.75 MB
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"Une femme, quand elle est héroïque, ne l'est pas à demi."
When you have a crush, or feel a passionate love and devotion for someone, the last thing you want to believe is that it will some day be over, that the strongest of feelings will fade and disappear, and leave you to see the disappointing normality and boredom of your object of obsession.
I had a passionate crush on George Sand when I was in my early twenties. I read everything I could get hold of - and she was a prolific writer, even compared to other hard-working authors of her time and place, like Balzac or Flaubert. Just as much as with her fiction, I fell in love with her life story - the eternal pendulum between hard, serious work, care for her children and her home, and that other side of her, the wild desire to do whatever she felt like, when she felt like it. Cross-dressing, smoking, engaging in love affairs, painting, drawing, writing for a living. All was possible for her in a world in which women lived mostly like Jane Austen's heroines - if they were privileged and lucky. To marry well and to be forgotten in a well-protected household was not enough for George Sand.
Not only did she dare to take famous lovers like Musset or Chopin, she even wrote only slightly disguised novels explaining her illustrious relationships to the eager yet scandalised reading public.
Elle et Lui, the simplest title possible for a love story. What else do you need to say? The title already contains all the drama, the jealousy, the exclusive focus, the intemperance, the frustrations and the sweet moments of complete bliss. And the fact that it can be written down as a story already tells you it is over, complete, finished, a closed chapter.
I lost sight of my passion for George Sand, moved on, had other reading experiences, got absorbed by other authors, forgot my obsession for her. And yet. Something lingered, stayed with me of the sweetness of that early love. And the other day, rearranging my bookshelves, I came across my whole collection of her work, in the back row at the top of a bookcase, and I felt that well-known, cherished flutter in my stomach. Those butterflies, that first moment of recognition ... There she was, that strong, independent woman, with her invincible love for life, the woman who wrote to the much younger Flaubert:
"L’humanité n’est pas un vain mot. Notre vie est faite d’amour, et ne plus aimer c’est ne plus vivre."
And I felt sad that I hadn't reviewed any of the dusty volumes, that I hadn't documented my affair with her writing, made it official.
Elle Et lui, her account of her stormy love affair with Alfred de Musset, is a perfect place for anyone to start reading George Sand, and it is never too late to fall in love with a person as acutely alive she was.
Daring to live, and to change, and to move on, and to keep the memories forever - that is her message!
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Read information about the authorAmantine Aurore Lucile Dupin, later Baroness (French:baronne) Dudevant (1 July 1804 – 8 June 1876), best known by her pseudonym George Sand (French pronunciation: [ʒɔʁʒ sɑ̃d]), was a French novelist. She is considered by some a feminist although she refused to join this movement. She is regarded as the first French female novelist to gain a major reputation.
Sand's reputation came into question when she began sporting men's clothing in public — which she justified by the clothes being far sturdier and less expensive than the typical dress of a noblewoman at the time. In addition to being comfortable, Sand's male dress enabled her to circulate more freely in Paris than most of her female contemporaries could, and gave her increased access to venues from which women were often barred — even women of her social standing.
Also scandalous was Sand's smoking tobacco in public; neither peerage nor gentry had yet sanctioned the free indulgence of women in such a habit, especially in public (though Franz Liszt's paramour Marie D'Agoult affected this as well, smoking large cigars). These and other behaviors were exceptional for a woman of the early and mid-19th century, when social codes—especially in the upper classes—were of the utmost importance.
As a consequence of many unorthodox aspects of her lifestyle, Sand was obliged to relinquish some of the privileges appertaining to a baroness — though, interestingly, the mores of the period did permit upper-class wives to live physically separated from their husbands, without losing face, provided the estranged couple exhibited no blatant irregularity to the outside world.
Poet Charles Baudelaire was a contemporary critic of George Sand: "She is stupid, heavy and garrulous. Her ideas on morals have the same depth of judgment and delicacy of feeling as those of janitresses and kept women.... The fact that there are men who could become enamoured of this slut is indeed a proof of the abasement of the men of this generation."
However, other luminaries in the world of arts and letters did not necessarily agree with Baudelaire, a few quotes will suffice:
"She was a thinking bosom and one who overpowered her young lovers, all Sybil — a Romantic."
V.S. Pritchett (writer)
"What a brave man she was, and what a good woman."
Ivan Turgenev (novelist)
"The most womanly woman."
Alfred de Musset (poet)
George Sand died at Nohant, near Châteauroux, in France's Indre département on 8 June 1876, at the age of 71 and was buried in the grounds of her home there.
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