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Give me calf’s tears

John Sturrock, 11 November 1999

George SandA Woman’s Life Writ Large 
by Belinda Jack.
Chatto, 412 pp., £20, August 1999, 0 7011 6647 9
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... in A la recherche du temps perdu – and also the last, one complete, 2500-page orbit later – is George Sand’s François le champi, the first ‘real’ novel the narrator remembers having read. Or rather, remembers having had read to him, by his mother on that seminal evening of anxiety when she fails to come up and give him a goodnight kiss. The ...

Wanting and Not Getting, Getting and Not Wanting

Rosemary Dinnage, 21 February 1980

My Life 
by George Sand, translated and adapted by Dan Hofstadter.
Gollancz, 246 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 575 02682 0
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George Sand in her Own Words 
edited and translated by Joseph Barry.
Quartet, 475 pp., £7.50, November 1980, 0 7043 2235 8
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... The 19th century loved George Sand: the Brownings, the Carlyles, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Ruskin, Whitman all read her; Arnold preferred her to Dickens; George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë were influenced by her; G.H. Lewes in a rash moment called her the most remarkable writer of the century ...

Devils v. Dummies

Tim Parks: George Sand, 23 May 2019

La Petite Fadette 
by George Sand, translated by Gretchen van Slyke.
Pennsylvania State, 192 pp., £14.95, November 2017, 978 0 271 07937 0
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George Sand 
by Martine Reid, translated by Gretchen van Slyke.
Pennsylvania State, 280 pp., £21.95, May 2019, 978 0 271 08106 9
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... years later, Landry, a character in La Petite Fadette, a novel written by Dupin under her pen name George Sand, thinks about drowning himself in the river. By this time Sand’s readers would have been familiar with the suicide option. In her first novel, Indiana (1832), a serving girl drowns herself in a millpond while ...

May he roar with pain!

John Sturrock, 27 May 1993

Flaubert–SandThe Correspondence 
translated by Barbara Bray.
HarperCollins, 428 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 00 217625 4
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Correspondence. Tome III: janvier 1859 – décembre 1868 
by Gustave Flaubert, edited by Jean Bruneau.
Gallimard, 1727 pp., frs 20, March 1991, 2 07 010669 1
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Madame Bovary: Patterns of Provincial Life 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Francis Steegmuller.
Everyman, 330 pp., £8.99, March 1993, 1 85715 140 2
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Madame Bovary 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Geoffrey Wall.
Penguin, 292 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 14 044526 9
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... At the time, George Sand was the celebrity, a retired amorist and noted cross-dresser now publishing without strain two or three novels a year of the improving, marketable kind. Flaubert, too, had had an episode of scandal, when he and Madame Bovary were taken to court in 1857 for obscenity; but he by now was labouring retentively away once again in the service of Apollo, the Olympian specially refurbished by him as ‘the god of crossings-out ...


Emilie Bickerton, 22 November 2018

The Great Nadar: The Man behind the Camera 
by Adam Begley.
Tim Duggan, 247 pp., £12.99, July 2018, 978 1 101 90262 2
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... a glacial Eugène Delacroix; the incredibly joyless Goncourt brothers; a series of portraits of George Sand, who went to Nadar in desperation after a competitor had captured with great vividness her drooping mouth and double chin. The image was ‘making everyone scream’, Sand wrote to Nadar. He went on to take ...

Two Velvet Peaches

Rosemary Ashton, 17 February 1983

... Was George Eliot reticent about sex? During the period in which her reputation was at its lowest, between 1890 and 1940, one element in the general argument that her novels were philosophical treatises rather than art was her supposed coyness in sexual matters.* ‘Pallas with prejudices and a corset,’ cried W.E ...

How stupid people are

John Sturrock: Flaubert, 7 September 2006

Bouvard and Pecuchet 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Mark Polizzotti.
Dalkey Archive, 328 pp., £8.99, January 2006, 1 56478 393 6
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Flaubert: A Life 
by Frederick Brown.
Heinemann, 629 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 434 00769 2
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... to his unusual capacity for suffering in the service of a transcendent Art. No wonder he told George Sand as he set out on the novel that it would be the modern ‘counterpart’ of Saint Antoine (the final version of which he had just sent off to the publisher). He is reverting in Bouvard et Pécuchet to the role of St Anthony, with the prolonged ...

In a horizontal posture

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 5 July 1984

The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Mary Russell Mitford: 1836-1854 
edited by Meredith Raymond and Mary Rose Sullivan.
Baylor University, Browning Institute, Wedgestone Press and Wellesley College, 431 pp., March 1983, 0 911459 01 4
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Love and the Woman Question in Victorian Literature: The Art of Self-Postponement 
by Kathleen Blake.
Harvester, 254 pp., £25, November 1983, 0 7108 0560 8
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... a strong bond between them. EBB’s confession that she had been covertly reading Victor Hugo and George Sand apparently evoked a sympathetic response, and she impetuously replied by determining to supply the other with the forbidden texts – to make of Miss Mitford ‘an accomplice in act as in desire’. After anonymously ordering a shipment to be ...

Fearless Solipsist

Anita Brookner, 31 July 1997

by Claude Francis and Fernande Gontier.
Perrin, 439 pp., frs 139, April 1997, 2 262 01224 5
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... in her own estimation, 49 volumes, some of them admittedly slight. She expressed admiration for George Sand, who could finish one novel and begin another in the same half-hour, yet she herself could shoulder the equally impressive task of projecting her image throughout a long and varied life, both on and off stage. Her undoubted beauty helped, yet it ...

Bachelor Life

Peter Campbell, 28 January 1993

by Timothy Wilson-Smith.
Constable, 253 pp., £16.95, October 1992, 0 09 471270 0
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... he spent time with, even in his palmiest days, were not social butterflies but fellow artists like George Sand and Chopin, and school friends who had become civil servants. Yet his intellectual isolation should not be underestimated. Wilson-Smith’s chapter describing Delacroix’s friendship with Chopin and ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Prendergast: Sarah Palin’s Favourite Frenchman, 2 December 2010

... reference to the – unspecified – merits of reading him in one of Flaubert’s letters to George Sand but this was in 1871, at the height of Flaubert’s hysteria over the Paris Commune). The resurrection of Bastiat has been almost entirely an American affair, long pre-dating his appropriation by the Tea Party. It began as the Cold War got under ...

On high heels up Vesuvius

Anita Brookner, 21 July 1994

Rage and Fire: A Life of Louise Colet – Pioneer Feminist, Literary Star, Flaubert’s Muse 
by Francine du Plessix Gray.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, July 1994, 0 241 13256 8
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... that Flaubert had a more intimate relationship with his male friends than with all women except George Sand, whom he treated with rare respect. This gives further credence to Sartre’s observation that there was a homoerotic edge to Flaubert’s friendships, although this was true of most of the men in the Goncourt circle, all of whom were given to ...

Englishing Ourselves

F.W.J. Hemmings, 18 December 1980

by Robert Alter.
Allen and Unwin, 285 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 04 928042 2
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... as a frivolous libertine. At different times, the Edinburgh Review accused him of flippancy and George Sand, whom one wouldn’t have thought so stuffy, expressed the liveliest disapproval of his clowning. But it may be that Stendhal knew, better than George Sand or the Edinburgh Review, what to take seriously ...

Like a Carp on a Lawn

Graham Robb: Marie D’Agoult, 7 June 2001

The Life of Marie d'Agoult, Alias Daniel Stern 
by Phyllis Stock-Morton.
Johns Hopkins, 291 pp., £33, July 2000, 0 8018 6313 9
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Marie d’Agoult: The Rebel Countess 
by Richard Bolster.
Yale, 288 pp., £16.95, September 2000, 0 300 08246 0
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... Beethoven which bisects the horizon like an Alp. Dumas père, Hugo, a trousered, cigarette-smoking Sand, a spindly Paganini and a tubby Rossini look on in admiration. Of the eight faces, only Marie d’Agoult’s is invisible. She is seen from behind, sitting on the floor, her head resting on the piano, in imminent danger of being hit by the flying ...

Dear Mole

Julian Barnes, 23 January 1986

Flaubert and Turgenev: A Friendship in Letters 
translated by Barbara Beaumont.
Athlone, 197 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 485 11277 9
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... largely complete, is probably the third most important exchange after those with Louise Colet and George Sand; and it comes from the mellower end of Flaubert’s tonal spectrum. The letters to Louise are almost wholly combative: he fights against being in love with her, he fights against seeing her (true lovers, he informed her, can go ten years without ...

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