In any case, it is very certain that we come across this Patience again in Russian novels with a name ending in ow or ew. This is a proof that if the personage seems somewhat impossible, he was at any rate original, new and entertaining.
We hear people say that George Sand is no longer read. It is to be hoped that Mauprat is still read, otherwise our modern readers miss one of the finest stories in the history of novels. This, then, is the point at which we have arrived in the evolution of George Sand’s genius. There may still be modifications in her style, and her talent may still be refreshed under various influences, but with Mauprat she took her place in the first rank of great storytellers.
A CASE OF MATERNAL AFFECTION IN LOVE
We have passed over George Sand’s intercourse with Liszt and Madame d’Agoult very rapidly. One of Balzac’s novels gives us an opportunity of saying a few more words about it.
Balzac had been introduced to George Sand by Jules Sandeau. At the time of her rupture with his friend, Balzac had sided entirely with him. In the Lettres a l’Etrangere, we see the author of the Comedie humaine pouring out his indignation with the blue stocking, who was so cruel in her love, in terms which were not extremely elegant. Gradually, and when he knew more about the adventure, his anger cooled down. In March, 1838, he gave Madame Zulma Carraud an account of a visit to Nohant. He found his comrade, George Sand, in her dressing-gown, smoking a cigar by her fireside after dinner.
“She had some pretty yellow slippers on, ornamented with fringe, some fancy stockings and red trousers. So much for the moral side. Physically, she had doubled her chin like a canoness. She had not a single white hair, in spite of all her fearful misfortunes; her dusky complexion had not changed. Her beautiful eyes were just as bright, and she looked just as stupid as ever when she was thinking. . . .”
This is George Sand in her thirty-fifth year, as she was at the time of the fresh adventure we are about to relate.
Balzac continues by giving us a few details about the life of the authoress. It was very much like his own, except that Balzac went to bed at six o’clock and got up at midnight, and George Sand went to bed at six in the morning and got up at noon. He adds the following remark, which shows us the state of her feelings:
“She is now in a very quiet retreat, and condemns both marriage and love, because she has had nothing but disappointment in both herself. Her man was a rare one, that was really all.”
In the course of their friendly conversation, George Sand gave him the subject for a novel which it would be rather awkward for her to write. The novel was to be Galeriens or Amours forces. These “galley-slaves” of love were Liszt and the Comtesse d’Agoult, who had been with George Sand at Chamonix, Paris and Nohant. It was very evident that she could not write the novel herself.