George Sand: Her Life & Writings HTML version
A Feminist Of 1832
The First Novels And The Question Of Marriage
When Baronne Dudevant arrived in Paris, in 1831, her intention was to earn her living
with her pen. She never really counted seriously on the income she might make by her
talent for painting flowers on snuff-boxes and ornamenting cigar-cases with water-
colours. She arrived from her province with the intention of becoming a writer. Like most
authors who commence, she first tried journalism. On the 4th of March, she wrote as
follows to the faithful Boucoiran: "In the meantime I must live, and for the sake of that, I
have taken up the worst of trades: I am writing articles for the Figaro. If only you knew
what that means! They are paid for, though, at the rate of seven francs a column."
She evidently found it worth while to write for the Figaro, which at that time was quite a
small newspaper, managed by Henri de Latouche, who also came from Berry. He was a
very second-rate writer himself, and a poet with very little talent but, at any rate, he
appreciated and discovered talent in others. He published Andre Chenier's first writings,
and he introduced George Sand to the public. His new apprentice was placed at one of the
little tables at which the various parts of the paper were manufactured. Unfortunately she
had not the vocation for this work. The first principle with regard to newspaper articles is
to make them short. When Aurore had come to the end of her paper, she had not yet
commenced her subject. It was no use attempting to continue, so she gave up "the worst
of trades," lucrative though it might be.
She could not help knowing, though, that she had the gift of writing. She had inherited it
from her ancestors, and this is the blest part of her atavism. No matter how far back we
go, and in every branch of her genealogical tree, there is artistic heredity to be found.
Maurice de Saxe wrote his Reveries. This was a fine book for a soldier to write, and for
that alone he would deserve praise, even if he had not beaten the Enlish so gloriously.
Mademoiselle Verrieres was an actress and Dupin de Francueil a dilettante. Aurore's
grandmother, Marie-Aurore, was very musical, she sang operatic songs, and collected
extracts from the philosophers. Maurice Dupin was devoted to music and to the theatre.
Even Sophie-Victoire had an innate appreciation of beauty. She not only wept, like
Margot, at melodrama, but she noticed the pink of a cloud, the mauve of a flower, and,
what was more important, she called her little daughter's attention to such things. This
illiterate mother had therefore had some influence on Aurore and on her taste for
It is not enough to say that George Sand was a born writer. She was a born novelist, and
she belonged to a certain category of novelists. She had been created by a special decree
of Providence to write her own romances, and not others. It is this which makes the
history of the far-back origins of her literary vocation so interesting. It is extremely
curious to see, from her earliest childhood, the promises of those faculties which were to
become the very essence of her talent. When she was only three years old, her mother