Naked in the Marketplace: The Lives of George Sand

Overview

Acclaimed literary biographer Benita Eisler sheds new light on the many roles, triumphs, and losses that together constituted George Sand's overwhelming presence. The first woman in Europe to become a best-selling novelist, Sand was the author of nearly ninety novels, twenty thousand letters, and thousands of pages of autobiographical writings and political commentary. Her fame is inseparable from her notoriety. There was the scandal of leaving her husband and children, setting up in Paris with an ...
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Overview

Acclaimed literary biographer Benita Eisler sheds new light on the many roles, triumphs, and losses that together constituted George Sand's overwhelming presence. The first woman in Europe to become a best-selling novelist, Sand was the author of nearly ninety novels, twenty thousand letters, and thousands of pages of autobiographical writings and political commentary. Her fame is inseparable from her notoriety. There was the scandal of leaving her husband and children, setting up in Paris with an eighteen-year-old lover, as well as her many liaisons and friendships with men of talent and even genius: de Musset, Chopin, Balzac, and Flaubert. As Eisler reveals, hers seems like several lives-literary, political, amorous, and domestic. Naked in the Marketplace captures Sand's essence-the outsized public persona and the inner woman, along with the unique and irreplaceable role she played in the history of her times.
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Editorial Reviews

Thomas Mallon
Eisler can write with wit and brio, as when she calls Pierre Huguenin, one of Sand’s more cardboard fictional protagonists, a “lifeless ... recruiting poster for romantic socialism” who’s “never allowed off the ideological leash.”
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
For all her notorious affairs with men, Sand's passionate and unrequited attachment to her mother is the real love story of her life," writes noted literary biographer Eisler (Chopin's Funeral) in her bustling study of the great French Romantic writer's love life. Capturing the complexity of George Sand's relationship with her adored but largely absent working-class mother, Eisler analyzes the writer's various attitudes to class in light of her childhood, as she rapidly narrates Sand's remarkable transformation from rebellious young wife and mother to cross-dressing, controversial Parisian literary star. Treating Sand's autobiography with skepticism, Eisler emphasizes how Sand (1804-1876) also caused strife for others in her turbulent emotional life. Eisler authoritatively sketches the themes and philosophical preoccupations of Sand's novels in an age of revolutionary ferment, but places Sand's affairs center stage: from Alfred de Musset's "romantic passion run amok" to her political education by radical lawyer Michel de Bourges, and her long relationship with Chopin. Eisler's Sand is doomed to act out the insecurities of her childhood in an ugly, punitive relationship with her own daughter, Solange. As Eisler comments, referring to Sand by her real name, "It was Aurore, the motherless child, who was both the cause and victim of much of George's confusion and suffering." (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
George Sand (1804-76) led an intriguing existence filled with adventure, romance, and scandal; Eisler's (Chopin's Funeral) absorbing biography, which draws mainly from the 25 volumes of Sand's correspondence, documents the avant-garde French writer's life and "lives." She candidly describes Sand's struggles with her indifferent mother, her depression, and her numerous failed relationships with both women and men (including writer Alfred de Musset and composer Frederic Chopin). Sand's difficulties with her children as she tried to balance motherhood with a career are particularly poignant and reveal the complex facets of her life. Each chapter contains excellent literary and historical background of 19th-century France. Notes and sources are included, but there is no index to help readers reference all the interesting aspects of Sand's life. Writing in a straightforward style, Eisler succeeds in creating a psychological study of a woman who often was and still is misunderstood and underrated. Her entertaining and educational book is highly recommended for all libraries supporting French literature, history, and women's studies collections.-Erica Swenson Danowitz, Delaware Cty. Community Coll., Media, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Largely expanded from her previous literary study, Chopin's Funeral (2003), Eisler's latest explores the ways in which the early French novelist Sand (1804-76) extracted her literary, intellectual and political sustenance from her numerous lovers. As notorious for her free-loving personal life and cross-dressing fashion as for her atmospheric, revolutionary novels, Sand, n‚e Aurore Dupin, learned early on that freedom for a woman was gained through linking oneself to a powerful man. Eisler goes well into this pleasant-going study on Sand's early sense of abandonment by her mother, Sophie Delaborde, a "pure-blooded daughter of the proletariat" and probable prostitute whose livelihood in Paris ensured that her daughter would be raised by her formidable grandmother at Aurore's dead father Maurice Dupin's Nohant estate. Sophie essentially sold her daughter to the rich Dupin relatives, and the tug of war between Aurore's grandmother and mother took its toll on the young girl. Liaisons with strong, intelligent men formed her early development, while marriage to minor Gascon Baron Casimir Dudevant brought her stimulation and travel, as well as two children. Separation and a dizzying succession of lovers-including affairs early on with the much younger Jules Sandeau, from whom Sand fashioned her nom de plume, and Le Figaro's powerful editor Henri Latouche-launched her on a literary career. Her first novel, Indiana (1832), about the failure of a miserable marriage set in a typically exotic outpost, swept Paris and set the tone for a succession of romances about proto-feminist relationships: Valentine, L‚lia, Mauprat, etc. Curiously, Sand was also mightily attracted to weak-willed, brilliantyounger men who needed maternal nursing, such as Alfred de Musset and Fr‚d‚ric Chopin, and Eisler does a fine job of trying to integrate the many sides of this complex writer and political activist without capitulating to her charm and fame. Indeed, Eisler remains a rather severe moral critic of this fascinating, and rule-bending, personality. Eisler skillfully incorporates much correspondence within a frame of lively writing. Agent: Gloria Loomis/Watkins Loomis Agency Inc.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582433813
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,438,793
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

A native New Yorker, Benita Eisler was educated at Smith and Harvard. She has worked as an art editor, reporter, on-camera correspondent, and producer of arts programming for pubic television. Her interest in the varieties of artistic expression is reflected in her teaching and writing: She has taught the nineteenth- and twentieth century novel at Princeton and is the author of biographies of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz; Lord Byron, and Frédéric Chopin. She lives in Manhattan.
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Table of Contents

A Voyage     1
War Zones     11
Liberations     25
Knights Errant     39
True Confessions     51
Rebel into Writer     63
"Madame Dudevant Has Died in Paris..."     79
"Lelia"     91
Two for the Road     103
Double Exposure     117
A Political Education     131
The Long Goodbye     145
The Music Makers     159
The House of Art and the House of Life     173
Separate Tables     185
Children of Paradise     197
A House Divided     209
Lucrezia Floriani     223
The Unmaking of a Radical     235
Stages of Happiness     249
Last Acts     261
Notes and Sources     279
Acknowledgments     293
Index     295
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