George Sand

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The truth is too simple: one must always get there by a complicated route.

Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, baronne Dudevant (1 July 18048 June 1876), most famous under her pseudonym George Sand, was a French novelist and a pioneer of feminism.

Quotes[edit]

Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.
Art is a demonstration of which nature is the proof.
Immodest creature, you do not want a woman who will accept your faults, you want the one who pretends you are faultless – one who will caress the hand that strikes her and kiss the lips that lie to her.
Masterpieces are only lucky attempts.
Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth.
Which of us has not some sorrow to dull, or some yoke to cast off?
Art for the sake of truth, for the sake of what is beautiful and good — that is the creed I seek.
He made a single instrument speak a language of infinity. He could often sum up, in ten lines that a child could play, poems of a boundless exaltation, dramas of unequalled power.
  • J'ai un but, une tâche, disons le mot, une passion. Le métier d'écrire en est une violente et presque indestructible.
    • I have an object, a task, let me say the word, a passion. The profession of writing is a violent and almost indestructible one.
      • Letter to Jules Boucoiran, (4 March 1831), published in Georges Lubin (ed.) Correspondance (Paris: Garnier Freres, 1964-95) vol. 1, pp. 817-18; Frederick Niecks Frederick Chopin: As a Man and Musician (London: Novello, 1890) vol. 1, p. 334
  • Ce n'est pas la première fois que je remarque combien, en France particulièrement, les mots ont plus d’empire que les idées.
    • It's not the first time I've noticed how much more power words have than ideas, particularly in France.
      • Indiana, pt. 1, ch. 2 (1832); Sylvia Raphael (trans.) Indiana (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) p. 23
  • La vie ressemble plus souvent à un roman qu'un roman ne ressemble à la vie.
    • Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.
      • Metella, ch. 1 (1833); Robert J. Ackerman Perfect Daughters (Deerfield Beach, Fla.: HCI, 2002) p. 31
  • Nous ne pouvons arracher une seule page de notre vie, mais nous pouvons jeter le livre au feu.
    • We cannot tear a single page from our life, but we can throw the whole book into the fire.
      • Mauprat, ch. 11 (1837); Matilda M. Hays (trans.) Mauprat (London: E. Churton, 1847) p. 121
  • Immodest creature, you do not want a woman who will accept your faults, you want the one who pretends you are faultless – one who will caress the hand that strikes her and kiss the lips that lie to her.
      • Letter (17 June 1837) in The Intimate Journal of George Sand (1929) translated and edited by Marie Jenney Howe; also quoted in The Quotable Woman, 1800-1975 (1978) by Elaine Partnow
  • La vie est une longue blessure qui s'endort rarement et ne se guérit jamais.
    • Life is a long ache which rarely sleeps and can never be cured.
      • Letter to Pierre-François Bocage, (23 February 1845), published in Georges Lubin (ed.) Correspondance (Paris: Garnier Freres, 1964-95) vol. 6, p. 807; André Maurois (trans. Gerard Hopkins) Lélia: The Life of George Sand (New York: Harper, 1954) p. 292.
  • L'art est une démonstration dont la nature est la preuve.
    • Art is a demonstration of which nature is the proof.
      • François le Champi, Introduction (1848); Jane Minot Sedgwick (trans.) François the Waif {New York: H. M. Caldwell, 1894) p. 17
  • L'art pour l'art est un vain mot. L'art pour le vrai, l'art pour le beau et le bon, voilà la religion que je cherche....
    • Art for the sake of art itself is an idle sentence. Art for the sake of truth, for the sake of what is beautiful and good — that is the creed I seek.
      • Letter to Alexandre Saint-Jean, (19 April 1872), published in Calmann Lévy (ed.) Correspondance (1812-1876). Eng. Transl by Raphaël Ledos de Beaufort in Letters of George Sand Vol. III, p. 242
  • Les chefs-d'oeuvre ne sont jamais que des tentatives heureuses.
    • Masterpieces are only lucky attempts.
      • François le Champi, Introduction; Jane Minot Sedgwick (trans.) François the Waif (New York: H. M. Caldwell, 1894) p. 24
  • L'art n'est pas une étude de la réalité positive; c'est une recherche de la vérité idéale.
    • Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth.
      • La Mare au Diable, ch. 1 (1851); Frank Hunter Potter (trans.) The Haunted Pool (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1895) p. 15
  • Je vois sur leurs nobles fronts le sceau du Seigneur, car ils sont nés rois de la terre bien mieux que ceux qui la possèdent pour l'avoir payée.
    • I see upon their noble brows the seal of the Lord, for they were born kings of the earth far more truly than those who possess it only from having bought it.
      • Of peasants, in La Mare au diable, ch. 2 (1851); Frank Hunter Potter (trans.) The Haunted Pool (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1895) p. 25
  • Tous, quand nous avons un peu de loisir et d'argent, nous voyageons, ou plutôt nous fuyons, car il ne s'agit pas tant de voyager que de partir, entendez-vous? Quel est celui de nous qui n'a pas quelque douleur à distraire ou quelque joug à secouer?
    • All of us who have time and money to spare, travel — that is to say, we flee; since surely it is not so much a question of travelling as of getting away? Which of us has not some sorrow to dull, or some yoke to cast off?
      • Un Hiver à Majorque, pt. 1, ch. 4 (1855); Robert Graves (trans.) Winter in Majorca (Chicago: Academy Press, 1978) p. 29
  • Dans les jours orageux de la jeunesse, on s'imagine que la solitude est le grand refuge contre les atteintes, le grand remède aux blessures du combat; c'est une grave erreur, et l'expérience de la vie nous apprend que, là ou l'on ne peut vivre en paix avec ses semblables, il n'est point d'admiration poétique ni de jouissances d'art capables de combler l'abîme qui se creuse au fond de l'âme.
    • In the stormy days of our youth, we imagine that solitude is a sure refuge from the assaults of life, a certain balm for the wounds of battle. This is a serious mistake, and experience teaches us that, if we cannot live in peace with our fellow-men, neither romantic raptures nor aesthetic enjoyment will ever fill the abyss gaping at the bottom of our hearts.
      • Un Hiver à Majorque, pt. 3, ch. 5 (1855); Robert Graves (trans.) Winter in Majorca (Chicago: Academy Press, 1978) p. 165
  • On est heureux par soi-même quand on sait s'y prendre, avoir des goûts simples, un certain courage, une certaine abnégation, l'amour du travail et avant tout une bonne conscience.
    • One is happy as a result of one's own efforts, once one knows the necessary ingredients of happiness — simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and, above all, a clear conscience.
      • Letter to Charles Poney, (16 November 1866), published in Georges Lubin (ed.) Correspondance (Paris: Garnier Freres, 1964-95) vol. 20, p. 188; André Maurois (trans. Gerard Hopkins) Lélia: The Life of George Sand (New York: Harper, 1954) p. 418
  • Le vrai est trop simple, il faut y arriver toujours par le compliqué.
    • The truth is too simple: one must always get there by a complicated route.
      • Letter to Armand Barbès, (12 May 1867), published in Georges Lubin (ed.) Correspondance (Paris: Garnier Freres, 1964-95) vol. 20, p. 412; Bruce Kajewski Traveling with Hermes (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992) p. 32
  • La beauté qui parle aux yeux, reprit-elle, n’est que le prestige d’un moment; l’œuil du corps n'est pas toujours celui de l'âme.
    • "The beauty that addresses itself to the eyes," she continued, "is only the spell of the moment; the eye of the body is not always that of the soul."
      • Le Beau Laurence, ch. 1 (1870); Carroll Owen (trans.) Handsome Lawrence (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1871) p. 30
  • It was there he composed these most beautiful of short pages which he modestly entitled the Preludes. They are masterpieces. Several bring to mind visions of deceased monks and the sound of funeral chants; others are melancholy and fragrant; they came to him in times of sun and health, in the clamor of laughing children under he window, the faraway sound of guitars, birdsongs from the moist leaves, in the sight of the small pale roses coming in bloom on the snow. ... Still others are of a mournful sadness, and while charming your ear, they break your heart. There is one that came to him through an evening of dismal rain — it casts the soul into a terrible dejection. Maurice and I had left him in good health one morning to go shopping in Palma for things we needed at out "encampment." The rain came in overflowing torrents. We made three leagues in six hours, only to return in the middle of a flood. We got back in absolute dark, shoeless, having been abandoned by our driver to cross unheard of perils. We hurried, knowing how our sick one would worry. Indeed he had, but now was as though congealed in a kind of quiet desperation, and, weeping, he was playing his wonderful Prelude. Seeing us come in, he got up with a cry, then said with a bewildered air and a strange tone, "Ah, I was sure that you were dead." When he recovered his spirits and saw the state we were in, he was ill, picturing the dangers we had been through, but he confessed to me that while waiting for us he had seen it all in a dream, and no longer distinguished the dream from reality, he became calm and drowsy while playing the piano, persuaded that he was dead himself. He saw himself drowned in a lake. Heavy drops of icy water fell in a regular rhythm on his breast, and when I made him listen to the sound of the drops of water indeed falling in rhythm on the roof, he denied having heard it. He was even angry that I should intepret this in terms of imitative sounds. He protested with all his might — and he was right to — against the childishness of such aural imitations. His genius was filled with the mysterious sounds of nature, but transformed into sublime equivalents in musical thought, and not through slavish imitation of the actual external sounds. His composition of that night was surely filled with raindrops, resounding clearly on the tiles of the Charterhouse, but it had been transformed in his imagination and in his song into tears falling upon his heart from the sky. … The gift of Chopin is [the expression of] the deepest and fullest feelings and emotions that have ever existed. He made a single instrument speak a language of infinity. He could often sum up, in ten lines that a child could play, poems of a boundless exaltation, dramas of unequalled power.
    • On Chopin's Preludes in Histoire de Ma Vie (1902-04), Vo. IV, p. 439
  • His creation was spontaneous, miraculous. He found it without searching for it, without foreseeing it. It came to his piano suddenly, complete, sublime, or it sang in his head during a walk, and he would hasten to hear it again by, tossing it off on his instrument. But then would begin the most heartbreaking labor I have ever witnessed. It was a series of efforts, indecision, and impatience to recapture certain details of the theme he had heard: what had come to him all of a piece, he now over-analyzed in his desire to write it down, and his regret at not finding it again "neat," as he said, would throw him into a kind of despair. He would shut himself up in his room for days at a time, weeping, pacing, breaking his pens, repeating and changing a single measure a hundred times, writing it and effacing it with equal frequency, and beginning again the next day with a meticulous and desperate perseverance. He would spend six weeks on one page, only to end up writing it just as he had traced it in his first outpouring.
    • On Frédéric Chopin, in Oeuvres autobiographiques, edited by Georges Lubin, Vol. 2; Histoire de ma vie, p. 446. I [Jeffrey Kallberg] have modified somewhat the English translation printed in George Sand, Story of My Life: The Autobiography of George Sand, group translation ed. Thelma Jurgrau (Albany, 1991), p. 1109. The chapter on Chopin dates from August or September 1854.

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