George Sand: Her Life & Writings HTML version

The Romantic Escapade
The Venice Adventure
George Sand did not have to wait long for success. She won fame with her first book.
With her second one she became rich, or what she considered rich. She tells us that she
sold it for a hundred and sixty pounds! That seemed to her the wealth of the world, and
she did not hesitate to leave her attic on the Quay St. Michel for a more comfortable flat
on Quay Malaquais, which de Latouche gave up to her.
There was, at that time, a personage in Paris who had begun to exercise a sort of royal
tyranny over authors. Francois Buloz had taken advantage of the intellectual
effervescence of 1831 to found the Revue des Deux Mondes. He was venturesome,
energetic, original, very shrewd, though apparently rough, obliging, in spite of his surly
manners. He is still considered the typical and traditional review manager. He certainly
possessed the first quality necessary for this function. He discovered talented writers, and
he also knew how to draw from them and squeeze out of them all the literature they
contained. Tremendously headstrong, he has been known to keep a contributor under lock
and key until his article was finished. Authors abused him, quarrelled with him, and then
came back to him again. A review which had, for its first numbers, George Sand, Vigny,
Musset, Merimee, among many others, as contributors, may be said to have started well.
George Sand tells us that after a battle with the Revue de Paris and the Revue des Deux
Mondes, both of which papers wanted her work, she bound herself to the Revue des Deux
Mondes, which was to pay her a hundred and sixty pounds a year for thirty-two pages of
writing every six weeks. In 1833 the Revue des Deux Mondes published Lelia, and on
January 1, 1876, it finished publishing the Tour de Percemont. This means an
uninterrupted collaboration, extending over a period of forty-three years.
The literary critic of the Revue des Deux Mondes at that time was a man who was very
much respected and very little liked, or, in other words, he was universally detested. This
critic was Gustave Planche. He took his own role too seriously, and endeavoured to put
authors on their guard about their faults. Authors did not appreciate this. He endeavoured,
too, to put the public on guard against its own infatuations. The public did not care for
this. He sowed strife and reaped revenge. This did not stop him, though, for he went
calmly on continuing his executions. His impassibility was only feigned, and this is the
curious side of the story. He suffered keenly from the storms of hostility which he
provoked. He had a kindly disposition at bottom and tender places in his heart. He was
rather given to melancholy and intensely pessimistic. To relieve his sadness, he gave
himself up to hard work, and he was thoroughly devoted to art. In order to comprehend
this portrait and to see its resemblance, we, who knew our great Brunetiere, have only to
think of him. He, too, was noble, fervent and combative, and he sought in his exclusive
devotion to literature a diversion from his gloomy pessimism, underneath which was
concealed such kindliness. It seemed with him, too, as though he took a pride in making a
whole crowd of enemies, whilst in reality the discovery of every fresh adversary caused
him great suffering.