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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Behind the Candelabra’, 4 July 2013

Behind the Candelabra 
directed by Steven Soderbergh.
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... a 1945 biopic about Chopin. It’s significant that he remembers Merle Oberon, who played George Sand, and not Cornel Wilde, who played Chopin. She was more glamorous, but obviously Liberace had to be Chopin. It wasn’t the case that, as he once said, he played classical music with the boring bits left out. He converted classical music itself ...


Patricia Beer, 8 November 1979

The Intruder 
by Gillian Tindall.
Hodder, 286 pp., £5.95
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Mother Can You Hear Me? 
by Margaret Forster.
Secker, 269 pp., £5.90
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Treasures of Time 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 199 pp., £4.95
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Wild Nights 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 134 pp., £4.50
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... Jane, who had received a threadbare fashionable education and had never, for example, heard of George Sand (‘Oh good, I’ll read him’), would have come across this particular comment, but the point is made and is significant. For the reality presented in the story is indeed hard to bear. Having accompanied her lover Pierre to France, Jane, a ...

Viva la trattoria

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 9 October 2003

Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Her Sister Arabella 
edited by Scott Lewis.
Wedgestone, $300, October 2002, 0 911459 29 4
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... them seems to have broken off relations completely. A ‘very hard’ letter from her ‘dearest George’ was awaiting her in ‘a great packet’ when the couple reached Orléans, but friendlier exchanges eventually followed. Included in that first dreaded packet – her ‘death warrant’ as she called it – was a letter from Mr Barrett himself. But ...

Twenty Kicks in the Backside

Tom Stammers: Rosa Bonheur’s Flock, 5 November 2020

Art Is a Tyrant: The Unconventional Life of Rosa Bonheur 
by Catherine Hewitt.
Icon, 483 pp., £20, February, 978 1 78578 621 1
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... extraordinary success was interpreted as an anomaly. She styled herself as a Romantic genius like George Sand, to whom she was constantly compared, and seemed to transcend the constraints of her sex.‘Women’s rights! – women’s nonsense!’ she complained in the 1850s. ‘Women should seek to establish their rights by good and great works, and not ...

Romantic Ireland

Denis Donoghue, 4 February 1982

The Collected Stories of Sean O’Faolain: Vols I and II 
Constable, 445 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 00 946330 5Show More
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... all he was content to show, for more than thirty years of story-writing. One thinks, he said, of George Sand turning out volume after volume while never once neglecting a love affair, never missing one puff of her hookah. Well, no matter, O’Faolain has done many other things and written many other books besides his collections of stories. He has ...

Mrs Berlioz

Patrick Carnegy, 30 December 1982

Fair Ophelia: A Life of Harriet Smithson Berlioz 
by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 216 pp., £12.95, September 1982, 0 521 24421 8
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Mazeppa: The Lives, Loves and Legends of Adah Isaacs Menken 
by Wolf Mankowitz.
Blond and Briggs, 270 pp., £10.95, September 1982, 0 85634 119 3
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... no need of a key to this choice roman – among them, Liszt, Chopin, Paganini, Hugo, Dumas, Vigny, George Sand, Heine and Gautier. How much Harriet herself perceived we shall never know, but if she was still awake by the fourth ‘monologue de l’artiste’ in Lélio, she can no longer have been in any doubt as to the identity of the heroine for whom the ...

Above the kissing line

E.S. Turner, 28 January 1993

My Ascent of Mont Blanc 
by Henriette d’Angeville, translated by Jennifer Barnes.
HarperCollins, 132 pp., £17.99, December 1992, 0 00 215717 9
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Backwards to Britain 
by Jules Verne, translated by Janice Valls-Russell.
Chambers, 227 pp., £14.99, October 1992, 0 550 23000 9
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... an injustice by her ‘much-quoted remark’ that her motive had been to gain as much publicity as George Sand, who had scandalised Chamonix by turning up in her ‘ideologically significant male garb, accompanied by a youth dressed as a woman’. In her book Henriette’s explanation runs to waffle: ‘The soul has needs, as does the body, peculiar to ...


Joseph Frank, 2 December 1993

A Writer’s Diary. Vol. I: 1873-1876 
by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated and annotated by Kenneth Lantz.
Northwestern, 805 pp., $49.95, July 1993, 0 8101 1094 6
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... writers such as Nekrasov, Leskov, Belinsky and Tolstoy (not to mention a grateful obituary of George Sand, whose novels infiltrated subversive Utopian Socialist ideas into Russian culture during Dostoevsky’s youth and exercised an enormous influence). Dostoevsky’s Diary thus illuminates an entire stretch of Russian cultural history, and is ...


Robert Blake, 18 December 1980

Harold Nicolson: A Biography: Vol. 1, 1886-1929 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 429 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 7011 2520 9
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Harold Nicolson Diaries 1930-1964 
by Stanley Olson.
Collins, 436 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 00 216304 7
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... but few of his forty-odd books have lasted, apart from his study of Curzon, his lives of King George V and of Tennyson, and his Byron, The Last Phase. A word, too, should be said for his life of his father, Lord Carnock, which he regarded as his best achievement. He wrote with care and in an elegant, limpid style: but there are times when one is reminded ...

Let Them Be Sea-Captains

Megan Marshall: Margaret Fuller, 15 November 2007

Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life: The Public Years 
by Charles Capper.
Oxford, 649 pp., £23.99, June 2007, 978 0 19 506313 4
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... overboard in a storm after an agonising 12-hour wait for rescue when their ship foundered on a sand bar within sight of shore at Fire Island, near New York.Improvising on what might have been Fuller’s last thoughts, Lowell ends by transposing her famous formulation – ‘Ourselves are all we know of heaven’ – into an even more egocentric ...

George and the Dragon

John Burnside, 22 October 2015

... time and time again, the lance fixed in the dragon’s larynx, old blood cooling in the sand, like candlewax, the cave a myth, the storm, mere ornament, the new god in the throne room of high heaven, observing our trespasses, judging us, keeping us ...

Flaubert’s Parrot

Julian Barnes, 18 August 1983

... crosses, a telephone number and the words AMBULANCE FLAUBERT. The writer as healer? I remembered George Sand’s matronly rebuke to her younger colleague. ‘You produce desolation,’ she wrote, ‘and I produce consolation.’ The Peugeot should have read AMBULANCE GEORGE SAND. At the Hôtel-Dieu I was admitted ...

Just William

Doris Grumbach, 25 June 1987

Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice 
by Sharon O’Brien.
Oxford, 544 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 504132 1
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... in her heroines, the lost ladies Marian Forrester, Myra Henshawe, Sapphira Colbert. A portrait of George Sand hung in an honoured place in the Cather-Lewis apartment in Greenwich Village. Visions of accomplished, larger-than-life women (Sappho, actresses, Wagnerian singers) deeply affected her fiction. In an astute reading of Cather’s early journalism ...

Possibility throbs

Richard Altick, 23 July 1987

by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 274 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 571 14718 6
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... to in conversation: the insufferable, histrionic Théophile Gautier in his all-green costume, George Sand, Liszt, Chopin. Several of them attend a soirée given by Liszt’s mistress, Marie, Comtesse d’Agoult. But Sennett adeptly erases the dividing line between fact and fiction. Several well-known public figures are woven into the plot. The ...

Family Stories

Patrice Higonnet, 4 August 1994

The Past in French History 
by Robert Gildea.
Yale, 416 pp., £30, February 1994, 0 300 05799 7
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La Gauche survivra-t-elle aux socialistes? 
by Jean-Marie Colombani.
Flammarion, 213 pp., frs 105, March 1994, 2 08 066953 2
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... One would like to know more also about the para-political myths of rural and urban life (George Sand and Flaubert) or the Walter Benjamin myth of Paris as the capital of the 19th century. Gildea ends his account on a happy note: French political myths of both Left and Right are, he thinks, alive and well. Indeed, French political traditions ...

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