George Sand · women in translation month

George Sand’s pastoral trilogy

I stayed up late reading La Petite Fadette, which is something that lately does not happen very often. The story is simple and straightforward, one might even say naive, showing somewhat idealized characters, still it held my interest. Having finished it I eagerly continued to other two novels that count into Sand’s pastoral trilogy, namely The Country Waif (François Le Crampi) and The Devil’s Pool.

La Petite Fadette and François Le Crampi are fairly similar. Both Fadette and François are young people whose hard life was made more difficult by the prejudiced and unsympathetic people in their villages. Both are orphans, grown into highly moral and intelligent persons. Both go through a sort of metamorphosis and both find themselves in possession of a fortune.

The Devil’s Pool is different, although not in its tone and atmosphere. It does share a dose of folklore and superstition with La Petite Fadette (maybe I’ve lost it in François Le Crampi?).

All three are a sort of comforting type of narratives – Sand was of an opinion that these kind of stories were just what was needed in those times of war and shattered values. All three are love stories, each with a different matching in relation to the lovers’ age, which is interesting.

Before reading these novels I knew nothing about George Sand except that she was a French writer. Searching the internet I learned (among other things, of course) that Dostoevsky held her in high regard, that Turgenev was an admirer, as were Balzac, Flaubert, Proust, Malraux, Willa Cather… On the other hand, Baudelaire, for instance, was not the least impressed.

One would have to read more than three pastoral novels to form one’s own opinion of Sand considering she was such a prolific writer. I do not feel compelled to read other Sand’s work, but I can see myself rereading these three novels in time to come.