George Sand: Her Life & Writings HTML version

The Genius Of The Writer
Correspondence With Flaubert--Last Novels
With that maternal instinct which was so strong within her, George Sand could not do
without having a child to scold, direct and take to task. The one to whom she was to
devote the last ten years of her life, who needed her beneficent affection more than any of
those she had adopted, was a kind of giant with hair turned back from his forehead and a
thick moustache like a Norman of the heroic ages. He was just such a man as we can
imagine the pirates in Duc Rollo's boats. This descendant of the Vikings had been born in
times of peace, and his sole occupation was to endeavour to form harmonious phrases by
avoiding assonances.
I do not think there have been two individuals more different from each other than
George Sand and Gustave Flaubert. He was an artist, and she in many respects was
bourgeoise. He saw all things at their worst; she saw them better than they were. Flaubert
wrote to her in surprise as follows: "In spite of your large sphinx eyes, you have seen the
world through gold colour."
She loved the lower classes; he thought them detestable, and qualified universal suffrage
as "a disgrace to the human mind." She preached concord, the union of classes, whilst he
gave his opinion as follows:
"I believe that the poor hate the rich, and that the rich are afraid of the poor. It will be like
this eternally."
It was always thus. On every subject the opinion of the one was sure to be the direct
opposite of the opinion of the other. This was just what had attracted them.
"I should not be interested in myself," George Sand said, "if I had the honour of meeting
myself." She was interested in Flaubert, as she had divined that he was her antithesis.
"The man who is Just passing," says Fantasio, "is charming. There are all sorts of ideas in
his mind which would be quite new to me."
George Sand wanted to know something of these ideas which were new to her. She
admired Flaubert on account of all sorts of qualities which she did not possess herself.
She liked him, too, as she felt that he was unhappy.
She went to see him during the summer of 1866. They visited the historic streets and old
parts of Rouen together. She was both charmed and surprised. She could not believe her
eyes, as she had never imagined that all that existed, and so near Paris, too. She stayed in
that house at Croisset in which Flaubert's whole life was spent. It was a house with wide
windows and a view over the Seine. The hoarse, monotonous sound of the chain towing
the heavy boats along could be heard distinctly within the rooms. Flaubert lived there