Bonjour, Madame Dudevant Dupin

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I think it is probably time that you should meet Madame Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin. She is possibly one of the most famous people ever to be connected with Mallorca, Spain. How come, nobody knows her? Well, that’s easy. Because that’s her maiden name. She got married age 17 to Count Dudevant. That makes things much easier, doesn’t it?

 

No? How about her nom de plume then, her pseudonym. Madame Dudevant Dupin, born in 1804, French writer, is better known to the rest of the world as George Sand. Now we are talking.

 

Born of an aristocratic father and a lower-class mother, she was reared by her austere paternal grandmother on a country estate in Berry, France. After completing her education at a convent in Paris, she returned to the countryside and led an unconventional life, donning the male clothes that became a mark of her rebellion.

 

In 1831, after eight years of a marriage of convenience with Count Dudevant, a country squire, she went to Paris with her two children, obtaining a divorce in 1836.

 

She wrote some 80 novels, which were widely popular in their day, supporting herself and her children chiefly by her writing. Her earlier novels were romantic; later ones often expressed her serious concern with social reform. George Sand’s voluminous works are not much read these days. It is hard to take on board today what a huge influence she had in her own time.

 

Her liaisons – with the writer, Jules Sandeau; the poet, Alfred de Musset; the Polish composer, Frédéric Chopin; and others – were open and notorious, but were only part of her life.

 

She came to enjoy great renown in Paris both as a writer and as a bold and brilliant woman. She demanded for women the freedom in living that was a matter of course to the men of her day.

 

All her books are distinguished by a romantic love of nature as well as an extravagant moral idealism. She also wrote a number of plays. Much of her work was autobiographical, notably Histoire de ma vie (1854), Elle et lui (1859), and Un Hiver à Majorque (1842) about her life with Chopin. And that’s the one you might have read if you have ever visited this Balearic Island. Or haven’t you? The photo (above) shows the Cartuja in Valldemossa, Mallorca, where George Sand spent that famous Winter in Mallorca with Chopin, in 1838-39.

 

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In case you should be interested in a very readable biography on George Sand, the author and the woman, I do recommend George Sand by Elizabeth Harlan, Yale University Press, 384 pp, £ 25.

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