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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.
When Lelia appeared, the novel was very badly treated in L'Europe litteraire. Planche challenged the writer of the article, a certain Capo de Feuillide, to a duel. So much for the impassibility of severe critics. The duel took place, and afterwards there was a misunderstanding between George Sand and Planche. From that time forth critics have given up fighting duels for the sake of authors.
About the same time, George Sand made use of Sainte-Beuve as her confessor. He seemed specially indicated for this function. In the first place, he looked rather ecclesiastical, and then he had a taste for secrets, and more particularly for whispered confessions. George Sand had absolute confidence in him. She considered that he had an almost angelic nature. In reality, just about that time, the angelic man was endeavouring to get into the good graces of the wife of his best friend, and was writing his Livre d'Amour, and divulging to the world a weakness of which he had taken advantage. This certainly was the most villainous thing a man could do. But then he, too, was in love and was struggling and praying. George Sand declares her veneration for him, and she constituted herself his penitent.
She begins her confession by an avowal that must have been difficult for her. She tells of her intimacy with Merimee, an intimacy which was of short duration and very unsatisfactory. She had been fascinated by Merimee's art.
"For about a week," she says, "I thought he had the secret of happiness." At the end of the week she was "weeping with disgust, suffering and discouragement." She had hoped to find in him the devotion of a consoler, but she found nothing but cold and bitter jesting." This experiment had also proved a failure.
 Compare Lettres a Sainte-Beuve.
Such were the conditions in which George Sand found herself at this epoch. Her position was satisfactory; she might have been calm and independent. Her inner life was once more desolate, and she was thoroughly discouraged. She felt that she had lived centuries, that she had undergone torture, that her heart had aged twenty years, and that nothing was any pleasure to her now. Added to all this, public life saddened her, for the horizon had clouded over. The boundless hopes and the enthusiasm of 1831 were things of the past. "The Republic, as it was dreamed of in July," she writes, "has ended in the massacres of Warsaw and in the holocaust of the Saint-Merry cloister. The cholera has just been raging. Saint Simonism has fallen through before it had settled the great question of love."
 Histoire de ma vie.
Depression had come after over-excitement. This is a phenomenon frequently seen immediately after political convulsions. It might be called the perpetual failure of revolutionary promises.
It was under all these influences that George Sand wrote Lelia. She finished it in July, and it appeared in August, 1833.
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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.