Much of George Sand’s fiction is autobiography, and most of her autobiography is fiction. When some episode in her life ended badly, it was her habit to write a book about it in order to justify herself. The winter of 1838–39, which she spent in Majorca with Chopin and her two children, was not a success; the weather was bad, and seriously affected Chopin’s health, and the natives appeared to be hostile. The Majorcans may have been pained by George Sand’s anti-Catholicism, her unconventional life and her rudeness; but this was not the reason why they ostracised her and her family. They did so because they rightly suspected that Chopin had consumption and – somewhat ahead of their time – they rightly suspected that it was infectious.
The next year she published Winter in Majorca, a scrappy work, cobbled together from other people’s books and her own inaccurate or deliberately distorted memories. She inevitably portrayed herself as tolerant, well-mannered, and shamefully treated by the Majorcans, whom she vilified in a particularly offensive way. Robert Graves, who has