As of late there seems to be a renewed interest in one of my patron saints, George Sand. So it is time to pay more attention to her. As far as I am aware, George never felt she was a man, and she certainly—in her ever active sex life—never claimed to be interested in other women as partners. She did however, believe that men should not receive greater privileges than women. And they certainly should not be deferred to. And she just plain enjoyed dressing as a man, so why not? Why not indeed.
“Is it a man, a woman
Is it an angel, a demon?
I am the complete being
I exist by myself alone
And have resolved the problem
Of Plato’s androgynes.”
Verses by Etienne de Jouy addressed to George Sand
Portrait of George Sand, which hangs at Chawton House, Jean-Baptiste, 1847
Born Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, the French author George Sand (1804-1876) was one of the most popular writers in Europe in her lifetime, with her novels outselling Victor Hugo’s works in England in the 1830s and 1840s.
George is most popularly known as the lover of Chopin. And there was a group (ha! Groupies well before the 1980s) that gathered together, not the least of whom included: Bertie—Bertrand Russell, Franz Liszt, and of course, Chopin himself. It was not a Salon as such. These greats gathered together to play music, read poetry, and discuss ideas.
Chopin and George were together for some time until they were estranged by the interference of George’s daughter who wove herself into their marriage of minds. Solange became a point of disruption to George and Frederic so much so that George left him just two years before his death. She did not attend his funeral.
Many women in Europe wore men’s clothing in public at that time in the 19th century. So much so that a law was passed stating that women could dress as men, but only with permission. George refused to get a permit to dress as she liked. She championed the poor and the working class. She stood for women’s rights and all injustice and inequality.
George was a full and complete person of many talents and expressions. These comments only scratch the surface. There is much more to read of her time here on earth. It is well said that we owe her respect and admiration.
Once upon a time I wanted to change my name to George but felt I could not as both my dad and my brother had the first name of George. I still think it would be fun.