Chère Maître: The Correspondence of Gustave Flaubert and George Sand

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Peter Eyre
Oberon, 2002 - Drama - 49 pages
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After Sand's spirited defence of Flaubert's novel Salammbo in 1863, the two writers became friends. Both were excited by the attentions of the other, despite their difference in age, and their affection developed into eager and frequent correspondence. So began not a lover affair, but a deep friendship and one of the great epistolary masterpieces of modern times.

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About the author (2002)

Born in the town of Rouen, in northern France, in 1821, Gustave Flaubert was sent to study law in Paris at the age of 18. After only three years, his career was interrupted and he retired to live with his widowed mother in their family home at Croisset, on the banks of the Seine River. Supported by a private income, he devoted himself to his writing. Flaubert traveled with writer Maxime du Camp from November 1849 to April 1851 to North Africa, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. When he returned he began Madame Bovary, which appeared first in the Revue in 1856 and in book form the next year. The realistic depiction of adultery was condemned as immoral and Flaubert was prosecuted, but escaped conviction. Other major works include Salammbo (1862), Sentimental Education (1869), and The Temptation of Saint Antony (1874). His long novel Bouvard et Pecuchet was unfinished at his death in 1880. After his death, Flaubert's fame and reputation grew steadily, strengthened by the publication of his unfinished novel in 1881 and the many volumes of his correspondence.

George Sand began life as Aurore Dupin, the daughter of a count and a dressmaker. Educated both on her aristocratic grandmother's estate and in a Parisian convent, at 18 she married Casimer Dudevant, a provincial gentleman whose rough temperament was the opposite of her own, and from whom she obtained a separation several years later. At 31 she moved to Paris, where she changed her name and plunged into the bohemian world of French romanticism. Frequently dressed in men's clothing, she participated actively in literary debates, cultural events, and even the revolution of 1848. Sand was friend and correspondent with many of the major artists and writers of her age, including Balzac, Flaubert, and Liszt. Her love affairs with the poet Musset and the composer Chopin were the stuff of legend, chronicled in her own Story of My Life. Sand's immensely popular novels ranged from sentimental stories of wronged women, to utopian socialist fictions, such as her masterpiece in Consuelo, 1842, to explorations of pastoral themes written when she retired, late in life, to her estate in Berry. Though frequently dismissed as overblown or too sentimental, Sand's fiction has recently undergone a revaluation, emerging as an influential body of women's writing. As both a writer and an intellectual personality, Sand is a central figure in nineteenth-century French cultural life. George Sand died in 1876

Francis Steegmuller is the author of more than twenty books and a recipient of numerous awards and honors. His translation of Madame Bovary is an acknowledged classic. In 1982 the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters awarded him its Gold Medal for Biography.

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