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George Sand: A Biography

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A biography of the 19th century author, George Sand, discussing her personal life, her literary achievements, and her relationships with other artistic figures of her time.


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A biography of the 19th century author, George Sand, discussing her personal life, her literary achievements, and her relationships with other artistic figures of her time.

30 review for George Sand: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    I've never read any of Sand's novels, and this biography didn't instill the desire to. My interest in Sand was her relationship with Chopin (and what an odd relationship it was). But Sand herself was a fascinating woman, brilliant, popular, romantically voracious, a warm and generous hostess but also very shy around people she didn't know, and quick to give lovers the boot when things went south. Her marriage to a hard-drinking intellectual inferior was disastrous, and her relations with her chi I've never read any of Sand's novels, and this biography didn't instill the desire to. My interest in Sand was her relationship with Chopin (and what an odd relationship it was). But Sand herself was a fascinating woman, brilliant, popular, romantically voracious, a warm and generous hostess but also very shy around people she didn't know, and quick to give lovers the boot when things went south. Her marriage to a hard-drinking intellectual inferior was disastrous, and her relations with her children always seemed to conflict with her relations with lovers, even after her children passed into adulthood. The rift with Chopin became irreparable, for instance, when Chopin sided with Sand's daughter Solange over Sand. Sand rose late but worked like a mule churning out novels, and still had time to keep up correspondances with dozens of penpals. "Solange is well, eats like a horse, swears like a teamster, and lies like a dentist," Sand wrote to one of them. Curtis Cate's biography is 730 pages before you even get to the notes and it's not uniformly interesting (I could have survived without all the information about the amateur theatricals at Nohant), but Sand is one of those 19th-century figures who is linked to so many others of significance - writers, artists, musicians, composers, politicians, royalty - that she's like a Jenga block. Less of a household name today than some of her close friends (Chopin, Liszt, Balzac, Flaubert, Turgenev, Delacroix), she nonetheless had a gravitational pull that kept them circulating in the same orbit.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Engrossing read of the life of the author. Too long however.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lindegard

    I began reading “George Sand A Biography” by Curtis Cate (1975, Houghton Mifflin, Boston) in August 2017 and completed it December 30, 2017. I read it at the rate of approximately seven pages a night. The book is 732 pages of narrative, plus supplementary material (my guestimate is 307,440 words of narrative). Born in Paris, Cate held three university degrees (Harvard, and from schools in Paris and Oxford), was an editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and wrote other biographies. He died in 2006. I fou I began reading “George Sand A Biography” by Curtis Cate (1975, Houghton Mifflin, Boston) in August 2017 and completed it December 30, 2017. I read it at the rate of approximately seven pages a night. The book is 732 pages of narrative, plus supplementary material (my guestimate is 307,440 words of narrative). Born in Paris, Cate held three university degrees (Harvard, and from schools in Paris and Oxford), was an editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and wrote other biographies. He died in 2006. I found this book engrossing and informative, notable primarily for the author’s high regard of the most prolific female novelist of the 19th century, his engaging writing style, and the historical context for Sand’s works, activities, and romances. Born Aurore Dupin, George Sand lived from 1804 to 1876, largely in her family estate, Nohant, in the French province of Berry. She was the author of 60 books, most of which are still in print, and 25 plays, all of which were staged in her lifetime, as well as essays, articles, and voluminous correspondence with some of the 19th century’s most celebrated cultural icons. While Sand is famous for wearing men’s clothing, smoking cigars and cigarettes, having many affairs, and writing under a male name, Cate wisely focuses on her life as a creative person and her role in French history (literary and political) and downplays the so-called scandalous details of her daily life. It is worth noting that some of the greatest writers, artists, and musicians of Western Europe in the 19th century—Liszt, Flaubert, Turgenev, Hugo, Balzac, Pauline Garcia, Heine, Delacroix—admired the woman and her work, and many paid homage to her as one of the greatest writers of her time. Her affairs included those with the poet Musset and the composer Chopin, and she was a leading figure in the political uprisings in Paris during her lifetime. Cate’s biography fails, however, in an inability to make Sand come alive for the reader. What is she wearing, how does she dress her luxuriant black hair? There is a vivid description of Sand in a colorful frock, wearing a jaunty Turkish cap, early in the book. Surely, this was not an anomaly. How does she move, and what is she like when she dances? What percentage of the time did she dress in men’s clothes? I suspect it wasn’t that often. On more than one occasion, Cate quotes visitors who dismiss her as looking like a cow! (Ruminant, pensive, silent.) Surely this cannot be the exciting female presence who had 20 lovers and was synonymous in the popular imagination with Romantic-era passion and free love. Sand does emerge, however, as a study in contradictions, and it is this complexity which kept me reading slowly and carefully, night after night. Heralded as the mother of Women’s Liberation, she questioned the need for women to vote, a seeming contradiction. “We can’t worry about voting until we can inherit our own property,” she protested, having lost so much at the death of her father. However, Cate does capture Sand’s devotion to hard work, writing through the night for decades to support herself, her family, servants, and home. And yet there are hints of tender moments, such as an idyllic stroll and steamboat ride with the bachelor Flaubert (not one of her lovers) and his mother along the Seine. If this does not conjure up images of Impressionist painting to come, then nothing shall. “George Sand A Biography” is well worth reading: as a story, as history, as a tribute to a writer who is currently not as popular as her more celebrated peers. But just as small, independent publishers are discovering and publishing the works of pre-Austen novelists, so George Sand’s time will come again. Read this book and be prepared! (Review by L.L. Holt, author of The Black Spaniard.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    George Sand: A Biography by Curtis Cate hardcover in perfect condition with dust jacket only slightly worn, picture on jacket as above isbn o-395-19954-9 c 1975 812 pages

  5. 4 out of 5

    Frank McAdam

    An excellent, well written biography of the major literary figures of the nineteenth century. Though George Sand's novels are little read today, she was at the center of French literary life and an important political player in the Revolution of 1848. The lover of Chopin, Merimee, and Musset, she was also friends with Liszt, Balzac, Flaubert, Victor Hugo, Turgenev and the singer Pauline Viardot. Cate brings the author and her times vividly to life in this exhaustive study. An excellent, well written biography of the major literary figures of the nineteenth century. Though George Sand's novels are little read today, she was at the center of French literary life and an important political player in the Revolution of 1848. The lover of Chopin, Merimee, and Musset, she was also friends with Liszt, Balzac, Flaubert, Victor Hugo, Turgenev and the singer Pauline Viardot. Cate brings the author and her times vividly to life in this exhaustive study.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    2017 read because I was interested in George Sand. Author was an academic and his writing reflected the era in which he wrote it 1975 many of his comments were sexist but he still seem to admire sand who was a woman way before her time. found her life story fascinating Found book fun to read because of the large and often archaic words the author used which caused me to go to the Dictionary many times

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karen-Leigh

    Interesting account of a woman ahead of her time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book is really physically heavy. I'm on page 152, and it is keeping my interest, altho I have to admit, I'm wondering when she's going to grow up. I may lose patience with Ms. Sand. This book is really physically heavy. I'm on page 152, and it is keeping my interest, altho I have to admit, I'm wondering when she's going to grow up. I may lose patience with Ms. Sand.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julia Kichigina

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sobriquet

  11. 5 out of 5

    Byron Woolley

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anna Faktorovich

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hanka Šmídová

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bernadette

  15. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Required reading for one of my history classes in college. Review: Useful resource for study. I enjoyed this.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Celina

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sally

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Vignali

  19. 4 out of 5

    Randy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emmie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Allison

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amy Thorn

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shifra

  26. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

    Very detailed about her personal life -- relationship with her paternal grandmother and her mother --- and then her marriage (unsatisfying). Based on the many, many letters and journals she wrote, her many relationships were described --- even Chopin.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy Masonis

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christiane

  29. 5 out of 5

    Abril Santos

  30. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Trencher

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