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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 literature.
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 used to put her between four chairs in order to keep her still. By way of enlivening her captivity, she tells us what she did.
"I used to make up endless stories, which my mother styled my novels. . . . I told these stories aloud, and my mother declared that they were most tiresome on account of their length and of the development I gave to my digressions. . . . There were very few bad people in them, and never any serious troubles. Everything was always arranged satisfactorily, thanks to my lively, optimistic ideas. . . ."
She had already commenced, then, at the age of three, and these early stories are the precursors of the novels of her maturity. They are optimistic, drawn out, and with long digressions. Something similar is told about Walter Scott. There is evidently a primordial instinct in those who are born story-tellers, and this urges them on to invent fine stories for amusing themselves.
A little later on we have another phenomenon, almost as curious, with regard to Aurore. We are apt to wonder how certain descriptive writers proceed in order to give us pictures, the various features of which stand out in such intense relief that they appear absolutely real to us. George Sand tells us that when Berquin's stories were being read to her at Nohant, she used to sit in front of the fire, from which she was protected by an old green silk screen. She used gradually to lose the sense of the phrases, but pictures began to form themselves in front of her on the green screen.
"I saw woods, meadows, rivers, towns of strange and gigantic architecture. . . . One day these apparitions were so real that I was startled by them, and I asked my mother whether she could see them."
With hallucinations like these a writer can be picturesque. He has in front of him, although it may be between four walls, a complete landscape. He has only to follow the lines of it and to reproduce the colours, so that in painting imaginary landscapes he can paint them from nature, from this model that appears to him, as though by enchantment. He can, if he likes, count the leaves of the trees and listen to the sound of the growing grass.
Still later on, vague religious or philosophical conceptions began to mingle with the fiction that Aurore always had in her mind. To her poetical life, was added a moral life. She always had a romance going on, to which she was constantly adding another chapter, like so many links in a never-ending chain. She now gave a hero to her romance, a hero whose name was Corambe. He was her ideal, a man whom she had made her god. Whilst blood was flowing freely on the altars of barbarous gods, on Corambe's altar life and liberty were given to a whole crowd of captive creatures, to a swallow, to a robin-redbreast, and even to a sparrow. We see already in all this her tendency to put moral intentions into her romantic stories, to arrange her adventures in such a way that they should serve as examples for making mankind better. These were the novels, with a purpose, of her twelfth year.
Let us now study a striking contrast, by way of observing the first signs of vocation in two totally different novelists. In the beginning of Facino Cane, Balzac tells us an incident of the time when, as an aspiring writer, he lived in his attic in the Rue Lesdiguieres. One evening, on coming out of the theatre, he amused himself with following a working-man and his wife from the Boulevard du Pontaux-Choux to the Boulevard Beaumarchais. He listened to them as they talked of the piece they had just seen. They then discussed their business matters, and afterwards house and family affairs. "While listening to this couple," says Balzac, "I entered into their life. I could feel their clothes on my back and, I was walking in their shabby boots."
This is the novelist of the objective school, the one who comes out of himself, who ceases to be himself and becomes another person.
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George Sand, Some Aspects of Her Life and Writings -by- Rene DoumicBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.