George Sand by Elizabeth Harlan - review by Frances Spalding

Frances Spalding

She Wrote as if She Were Hemming a Skirt

George Sand

By

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'A writer must see everything, know everything, laugh at everything. Oh yes, vive la vie d'artiste. Our motto is freedom.' So George Sand justified herself to a friend, having left husband, son and daughter at Nohant in order to embark on her career within the literary profession in Paris. She was driven not by hazy ambition, but by a confident assessment of her skills and the ends to which they could be put.

I realized that I wrote quickly, easily, for a long time without fatigue; that my ideas, sleeping sluggishly in my brain, awoke and became coherent, through deduction, as the pen ran over the pages; that in my life of recollection I had often observed and understood rather well the personalities that chance had paraded before me, and that, consequently, I knew human nature well enough to depict it; in short, that of all the small tasks of which I was capable, literature, properly speaking, was the one that offered me the most chance of success as a profession and - let us not mince words - was the way to earn my bread.

It was a just claim. She soon joined the staff of a satirical journal, contributed to three others and never looked back. Aware that, in comparison with her friend Flaubert, she was a journeyman writer, she said of herself that she wrote as if she were hemming a skirt. Her

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