Reading Season: George Sand
A writer's influence or lifestyle can eclipse their actual work. Such is the case of one French writer born Lucile Aurore Dupin. She opted for a masculine nom de plume and became the highly notorious artist named George Sand. To some she may seem obscure but her style lives on through several well known Anglo-American classics.
"The time was when Madame Sand's novels were translated as fast as they appeared, and circulated, half surreptitiously, as works delightful and intoxicating, but scandalous, dangerous and seditious. To read George Sand in America was to be a socialist, a transcendentalist and an abolitionist."
plus ca change...
James places her above Dickens and Thackeray, giving her a special space away from Balzac. Passion as the central theme, the way she wrote about it was unique, startling, especially for the times; refusing to distinguish between virtuous and vicious love, love excuses all.
Unlike some of the Romantics, she knew human nature rather than felt it; a sentimentalist more than moralist, suggesting optimism over idealism. Wisdom without the weight; liquid, large, luminous and liberal. I think its called compassion; a balm to sooth the soul.
Rather than get wrapped into cliche Madame Sand had levity, perhaps an indifference which gave proper distance to write about passion, to express love in a way that feels less judgemental and more kind.
A powerful force among the Europeans, in the most cosmopolitan circles, writing of the peasant, next to nature, but suggesting liberty with a modern feminist timbre:
"What, she said, and if I have let you become my sweetheart, I am to read no books! but you may go your ways then, And I will read, she said, with my father at home as I used to. If you must have it, he said, I myself will read them to you. Well, she said, but no, I will read to myself, when I choose it."
Perhaps influence and lifestyle prove as vital to how we read and think about the most powerful emotions and motivators in our lives.