I ask the support of no one, neither to kill someone for me, gather a bouquet, correct a proof, nor to go with me to the theater. I go there on my own, as a man, by choice; and when I want flowers, I go on foot, by myself, to the Alps.

Georges Sand was a woman well ahead of her time. She led a free life many women are denied to this day and she lived it by defying most social conventions of 19th century France. She committed so many firsts, it is impossible and indeed, irresponsible to deny or ignore her contribution to feminism today. She is not only a symbol of determination and perseverance, independence and rebellion, but also one of the most important and influential novelists of the 19th century.

The world will know and understand me someday. But if that day does not arrive, it does not greatly matter. I shall have opened the way for other women.

After her death on June 8, 1876, her novels went out of style and she was remembered mainly for her controversial behavior and her many love affairs with famous men, like Frederic Chopin and Alfred de Musset. Not only did she smoke cigars, wear men's clothing and ride horses in a wholly unladylike fashion, she also went to strip bars disguised as a man in order to be able to participate in the literary circles that gathered there. It is only in recent years that the work of Georges Sand has been appreciated on a more critical level and she has been credited for her contribution to the development to the modern novel. In fact, her novels influenced great writers such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Gustave Flaubert, and Marcel Proust and in 1842, the English critic George Henry Lewes wrote that Sand was ''the most remarkable writer of the present century.''

Georges Sand was born Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin in Paris on July 1st, 1804. She was raised and educated on her grandmother's estate at Nohant. In 1822 she married Baron Casimir Dudevant and they had one son and one daughter. However, her marriage did not contribute in the slightest to her happiness and she left her husband, taking her children to Paris in 1831.

Upon her arrival in Paris she began writing for Le Figaro. She became close friends and, eventually, lovers with Jules Sandeau with whom she co-wrote her first novel. Her second novel, Indiana, she wrote independently and it immediately became very popular. Her second and third novels, Valentin (1832) and Leila (1833) were likewise very successful. These earlier novels fit the romantic genre of the time, but they were different in that they presented female characters as strong individuals in search of truth and independence, not marriage and domesticity. Sand's heroines were women who were, like her, determined to lead their own lives.

While her earlier work protested against the role of women in 19th century France, her later work became more political in tone. Books such as Consuelo, show Sand's concern for the social problems of the underprivileged and the state of politics in France at the time. Sand was very much influenced by Comte de Saint-Simon and Michel de Bourges, revolutionary figures of the time, and she was a committed Socialist until her death. Sand also played an important role in the 1848 Revolution.

Although many authors of the pamphlets and propaganda magazines were uncredited at the time, it is often accepted by scholars and historians that George Sand was a major contributor to the Bulletin de la République and Cause du peuple as well as Théophile Thoré's La Vraie République. On April 6, 1848, a group of feminists proposed her for the National Assembly, but she bluntly refused in a an open letter to La Reforme a few days later, not wanting any involvement in politics as such. After the events of June, she appealed to Louis Napolean for clemency for many of those implicated in the Revolution. She literally pleaded for hundreds, but managed to gain release for only a handful and commuted sentences for others. She defended Bakunin in a letter to Karl Marx on July 29, 1848.

Disappointed, however, with the results and her role, she retreated to her estate in the countryside. Her later novels avoid politics and are mostly concerned with simple life in the French provinces. Although some criticized her for her role in the Revolution, others like Jules Michelet and Hippolyte Taine praised her for her courage. In a letter to Mazzini, Sand once wrote about her belief in an ideal state based on community and equality. She repeatedly said the only party she belonged to was the parti du peuple.

Despite writing over 80 novels, hundreds of articles and thousands of letters, Georges Sand is most remembered for her lifestyle. And it is obvious why. The woman was wild and for her resistance to oppresive social norms, I admire her to no end. She was independent, feisty and largely outspoken. She did what she wanted to, ignored the boundaries and limitations placed on women's lives at the time. She told lewd jokes, laughed loudly, misbehaved in aristocratic circles. Her affairs were numerous and generally open to the public. Most importantly, Sand did these things in an age where it was unheard of for women to be defiant in even the most minor ways. Georges Sand lived a life free of regrets and the only way she could: her way. Above and beyond all of these things, she was intelligent and used her intelligence for beautiful purposes: literature, women's rights and the defense of her freedom.

Georges Sand is my hero.

Bibliography

Pictures:
http://www15.brinkster.com/amidera/women/george.html (you must scroll to the bottom)

Sources:
http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/gsand.htm
http://www15.brinkster.com/amidera/women/george.html
http://www.catharton.com/authors/641.htm
http://cscwww.cats.ohiou.edu/~Chastain/rz/sand.htm

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