Indiana by George Sand

In her two prefaces, that of 1832, when Indiana first released ― George Sand was 28―, and that of 1848, when it was republished, she explains why and how she wrote this novel. She had already a great experience of life, for such a young woman, at the beginning of the 19th century, and above all, she a luminous intelligence.

"I wrote Indiana, I had to write Indiana (…) Is the cause I was defending so small? It is that of half of the human race, it is that of the entire human race; for the woe of women leads to that of men, as that of the slaves leads to that of the masters, and I tried to show it in Indiana. It has been said that it was an individual cause that I pleaded; as if I had been the only unfortunate human being in this peaceful and radiant humanity! Enough cries of pain and sympathy responded to mine so that I now know about the supreme bliss of others.

(...) I wrote Indiana with the unreasoned feeling, it is true, but deep and legitimate, of the injustice and barbarity of the laws that still govern the existence of the woman in marriage, in the family and the society. I did not have to make a treatise on jurisprudence, but to wage war against public opinion; because it is she who delays or prepares social improvements. The war will be long and hard; but I am neither the first, nor the only, nor the last champion of such a beautiful cause, and I will defend it as long as I have a breath of life left."

George Sand was full of strength and sincerity when she described "the ill-established relationship between men and women, by the fact of society." She only did her job as a storyteller by telling the truth about the society of her time that put the woman below all else.

Yet, the character of Indiana, the woman, is very miserable: it will take many years for this young innocent woman, uneducated, unloved, to understand the men around her and to understand herself. She will deliver, throughout the novel, an exhausting struggle against the society that denies her being a woman, but who wants to make her an angel while she is a human being made of flesh, blood and heart.

The husband, who represents the legitimacy, the law, is as blind as she is. Oh, he doesn’t have the best part!

The lover, the tempter, the society gave him the illusion that the world was there only to please him, that luxuriousness were there only to be seized by his white and soft hand, that women were there only to satisfy the pleasure of men like him. Why would he seek to change this society that fills him with his benefits?

As for the good man, he is easily recognizable: he is the one who does not seek to look bright in society, the one who forgets himself for the benefit of others.

Yes, you can read Indiana for its advocacy for women's freedom, to know History through this story, or simply to read a good and beautiful story. But when you have read Indiana so, you will come back to it to impregnate yourself with George Sand’s knowledge of the world, deep understanding of men and women’s soul, and the great intelligence that she puts at your fingertips in a clear, simple, bright and attaching style.


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Gabrielle Dubois©

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