Fiction > Harvard Classics > George Sand > The Devil’s Pool > Biographical Note
George Sand (1804–1876).  The Devil’s Pool.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917.
Biographical Note
AMANTINE LUCILE AURORE DUPIN, now always known as George Sand, was the daughter of an officer of distinguished if irregular lineage, and a woman of a somewhat low type. She was born at Paris on July I, 1804, and spent most of her childhood with her aristocratic grandmother at Nohant, a country house in Berry, her education being conducted after the doctrines of Rousseau by the ex-abbé Deschatres. For three years she was an inmate of a convent, where she experienced a mystical conversion; and after her grandmother’s death she married a country squire, Casimir Dudevant, who was incapable of intellectual sympathy with her and from whom she was estranged some time after the birth of her son and daughter.   1
  In 1831, Mme. Dudevant cut loose with her husband’s consent and went to live in Paris. She formed a literary as well as a more intimate partnership with Jules Sandeau, and in 1832 obtained a marked success with her first independent novel, “Indiana,” in which she gives a portrait of M. Dudevant, vivid if disagreeable. “Valentine” and “Lèlia” followed, all three dealing with misunderstood women, and implying a protest against the binding force of uncongenial marriages.   2
  Near the end of 1833 she went to Italy with the poet, Alfred de Musset, and later gave an account of their relation, which ended unhappily, in “Elle et Lui.” She next came under the influence of Michel de Bourges, the counsel who obtained for her a judicial separation from M. Dudevant, and became a republican. This friend, as well as Liszt, the composer, appears in her “Lettres d’un Voyageur.” A phase of religious mysticism under Lamennais, and another of Socialism under Pierre Leroux followed, to be partly eclipsed in turn by her infatuation for the musician, Chopin, with whom she spent the winter of 1837–38 in the island of Majorca. A group of novels, of which the best known is “Consuelo,” reflect the period of her interest in schemes of social regeneration.   3
  She now turned to stories of country life, and in “La Mare au Diable,” here translated, “François le Champi,” and “La Petite Fadette,” produced a series of the most charming pastorals—probably the most permanent part of her work. In her last period she wrote some novels of manners, several of which, notably “Les Beaux Messieurs de Bois-Dorâ” and “Le Marquis de Villemer,” were successfully dramatized. After a tranquil old age spent at Nohant, she died there on June 8, 1876.   4
  George Sand is the most prolific of women writers, and her style has the ease and fluidity of actual improvisation. She was not a great or original thinker, and to a large extent she reflected the ideas of the men under whose influence she successively came. But her work has the charm of her enthusiastic if not always very logical idealism, great tenderness, and a genuine love of nature. It would be hard to find in the literature of any country more delightful and touching pictures of peasant life than those of which “The Devil’s Pool” is a favorable example. The rustic types are somewhat idealized, and the farm life is seen by a romantic temperament, but the stories have nevertheless a high degree of artistic truth and beauty.
W. A. N.



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