George Sand: A Woman's Life Writ Large

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9780679779186: George Sand: A Woman's Life Writ Large
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The author of classic novels including Indiana and Lélia, George Sand is perhaps better known for her unconventional life. Belinda Jack unravels the many facets of this writer who counted among her friends and lovers everyone from Chopin and Liszt to Dostoyevsky and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Sand defied convention by writing novels; but the fact that she was a cigar-smoking cross-dresser who took male and female lovers, declared marriage “barbarous,” and championed socialism made her a legend. Allowing Sand’s voice to be heard, but wise enough to question it, Jack presents a riveting study of a woman raised by her aristocratic grandmother and her prostitute mother, and whose life and work were forever fueled by rival worlds.

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

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ISBN 10:  0679455019 ISBN 13:  9780679455011
Publisher: Knopf, 2000
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