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  • Writer's pictureShannon Elisabeth

Les femmes de France

French Female Écrivains - Part I

George Sand

The tangle of memory and imagination inspires me to take to a journal or keyboard, most often a pen. When I return to a place in memory (like this photo I took on a walk at George Sand's country house estate), time has robbed the swaying grasses, the haystacks, and the acorns that I crunched underfoot. Luckily, I found one towering oak tree in a box of photos. I remembered it in such detail that all the other memories surged back from nowhere. The memories filled the forest as well as other features on George Sand's estate, where I imagined Chopin's nocturnes echoing through the halls. That's how writing from memory is for me. One memory fills a forest.

If you travel to France, might I recommend George's country estate? This house is where she truly felt at home, and I knew why the moment I stepped foot inside.

Firstly, her real name was Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin de Francueil. "Ahead of her time...a feminist," my Parisian belle-mère often says before I finish "a Romantique, too."

When French people pronounce George Sand, do you notice how it sounds like "Georgia Sand?"

I admire her because she wrote to make a difference in the society she lived in at the time, rather than for financial gain. Her fictional purpose changed how we think of culture and ourselves. She rattled social norms when she smoked in public and dressed in men's clothes because they were more comfortable than noblewoman's attire—but mostly challenged social codes through her essays, novels, and written works of a great range of genres. Chopin seduced her with his romantic notes of pianoforte until she found him "insufferable."

There are twenty volumes in her biography, reflecting her adventurous, full life. I do hope you find a chance to visit and see what made it so warm and inviting. And why it was such a breeding ground for artists.

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