George Sand: A Woman's Life Writ Large

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9780679455011: George Sand: A Woman's Life Writ Large

A fascinating exploration of the life of George Sand--whose brilliant writing, radical politics, and unorthodox personality made her a legendary figure in her own time and forever after.

Born Aurore Dupin in 1804, Sand became France's best-selling writer, rivaled in her day only by Victor Hugo--yet she was known as much for her excessive life as for her plays, stories, and enduring novels like Indiana, Lélia, and Mauprat.

The daughter of a prostitute and an aristocrat, great-granddaughter of the King of Poland, Sand grew up acutely aware of social injustice and prejudice. Convent-educated, she became a mischievous, flamboyant rebel at the center of French intellectual and artistic life. Her intimate circle included Liszt, Delacroix, Balzac, and Flaubert. She was a magnet for some of the greatest writers of her era: Henry James, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Dostoyevsky, and Turgenev. Her long, troubled romance with Chopin was just one of her many affairs with both men and women. A believer in the equality of the sexes, she thought marriage "a barbarous institution"; a socialist, she acted as Minister of Propaganda after the Revolution of 1848. Legendary for her free life, cigar-smoking, and scandalous cross-dressing, she also spun a web of fraught relationships with her grandmother, mother, daughter, and beloved granddaughter.

No one quite matches George Sand--she remains unique, powerful, vital, and mysterious. In this rich new biography, Belinda Jack gives the full flavor of Sand's personality and delves beneath the surface of her life and her age,
showing how her art both reflected and shaped her life. Here is an unforgettable portrait of a remarkable writer--and an extraordinary woman.

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Review:

She was the most notorious female writer of her age, as famous for open love affairs and the habit of dressing in men's clothes as for wildly popular novels such as Indiana and Consuelo, many of which delineated women's struggles for fulfillment. George Sand's long, prolific life (1804-76) has prompted many biographies, from André Maurois's 1952 classic, Lélia, to a plethora of stimulating feminist rethinkings in the 1970s.

British scholar Belinda Jack's perspicacious new book makes a welcome addition to the genre. Taking a selective, interpretive approach, Jack spends a good deal of time on Aurore Dupin's tumultuous childhood. Torn between her aristocratic grandmother and her erratic mother after her father's untimely death, Aurore gained "precocious insights into the complexities of class and the respective lots of men and women," Jack argues; those insights, galvanized by passionate prose and scandalous subject matter, fueled the novels she published under the pen name George Sand. Jack pithily depicts the famous romances with Alfred de Musset and Frédéric Chopin, as well as Sand's less well known but intense affair with the actress Marie Dorval. She limns an appealing woman and a protean artist, too often stereotyped as the quintessential French Romantic when in fact Sand's view of identity as "multiple and constantly changing" sounds a note that rings true today. --Wendy Smith

From the Back Cover:

“Focused and engaging.”–The New York Times Book Review

“An eloquent and straightforward life story.... Lucid and sympathetic.”–Elle

"An illuminating and entertaining book.... Emotionally engaging."–The Sunday Times (London)

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