A historical and literary event to celebrate: the first-ever complete edition of the lively, intimate, and illuminating correspondence between two of the nineteenth century's greatest writers and personalities. It was nearly by accident that the correspondence - and the friendship - between Gustave Flaubert and George Sand began. Following the sensational scandal caused by the publication of his Madame Bovary in 1857, Flaubert's Salammbo was accorded a generally cool critical reception; George Sand, however - ...
A historical and literary event to celebrate: the first-ever complete edition of the lively, intimate, and illuminating correspondence between two of the nineteenth century's greatest writers and personalities. It was nearly by accident that the correspondence - and the friendship - between Gustave Flaubert and George Sand began. Following the sensational scandal caused by the publication of his Madame Bovary in 1857, Flaubert's Salammbo was accorded a generally cool critical reception; George Sand, however - then at the height of her reputation as both a novelist and a playwright - championed the book in a review. The letter a grateful Flaubert sent her in thanks initiated thirteen years of steadily deepening affection - and ongoing epistolary conversation - between the two that has evolved, over the course of more than a century, into the stuff of literary legend. Despite the difference in their ages - Sand was a generation older than Flaubert, and had a son his age - they shared a remarkable affinity. "I don't think," wrote Sand, "there can be two workers in the world more different from one another than we are. But as we're so fond of each other it doesn't matter . . . We need our opposite number." As they expounded their often-contrasting views on writing and the craft of fiction, contemporary French society, the arts (especially the stage), their passions and prejudices, their family concerns, and the political upheavals of the times, Flaubert and Sand could not have known the invaluable contribution their dialogue would ultimately make to the world of literature. Their distinctive literary "voices" have been subtly and astutely captured by Francis Steegmuller (Flaubert) and Barbara Bray (Sand). Mr. Steegmuller's incisive foreword provides additional historical perspective, and reinforces the observation by Alphonse Jacobs, the editor of the original French edition, that this is indeed "the finest correspondence of the past century, perhaps the finest of
It is difficult to imagine two people less alike than romantic, freewheeling George Sand (1804-1876) and impeccably refined Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880). Yet the two French writers sustained a warm, touching friendship from 1863 until Sand's death. Their vibrant, expansive correspondence is well served by this expertly translated selection of more than 400 letters. During the German occupation of 1870-1871, Flaubert, forced to lodge Prussian officers, laments the ``civilized savages'' of modern warfare: Sand, outraged at the horrors of the Commune, sees her proletarian dreams crumbling. Elsewhere Madam e Bovary's creator, for whom ``cynicism is next to chastity,'' fulminates over the bourgeoisie, philistines, publishers, the writer's lowly status and the damned human race. The older Sand tries to allay his hypochrondria, his loneliness, his rages and melancholy; at one point she scolds him and urges marriage as a solution to his problems. Both writers disclose their deepest needs and longings in these affectionate, unguarded letters. (Feb.)
The letters exchanged between George Sand and Gustave Flaubert from 1863 until Sand's death from intestinal blockage in 1876 vividly depict the daily lives of two greats of 19th-century French literature. Sand, liberal and idealistic, possessing republican principles but disillusioned in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, was 17 years Flaubert's senior and the more prolific of the two. She authored countless books and plays while surrounded by her considerable entourage at Nohant. Flaubert, more sullen, admittedly the greater talent, wrote in solitary isolation at Croisset, sustained by a small allowance from his mother. Fortunately, editor Jacobs intrudes only when clarification is required. An extremely readable translation recommended for academic libraries to be used by scholars of 19th-century French literature and civilization.-- Bob Ivey, Memphis State Univ., Tenn.
"I don't think there can be two workers in the world more different from one another than we are," George Sand wrote to Gustave Flaubert in 1869. "But as we're so fond of each other it doesn't matter. . . . We complete ourselves by identifying every so often with what is not ourselves." Such was the chief basis of the two writers' epistolary friendship, which began in earnest in 1866 and continued until Sand's death 10 years later. Drawn from the editorial work of the late French Flaubert scholar Alphonse Jacobs, this new translation is long on thoughtful prose and short on explosive revelations.For the literary historian, Flaubert's side of the correspondence may be the most interesting. One of their many differences as producers was the speed with which Sand floated from one project to another, while Flaubert agonized and revised. The result is that the two seem to have discussed the content of his work, "L'Education sentimentale" in particular, in much greater detail than they did hers. However, recent popular interest in Sand's life (as seen in the film "Impromptu") and critical interest in her variety of feminism will also be gratified. The freedom and wisdom with which she expresses herself make the work worth reading for experts and nonexperts alike.