“New Letters Found”, by George Sand, edited by Thierry Bodin, Le Passeur, 636 p., €22.
Business letters are rarely captivating. But when George Sand (1804-1876) holds the pen, it changes everything. As proof, his tasty exchanges with the young clerk of his lawyer, who are among the 404 New letters found carefully presented by Thierry Bodin.
In 1846, the writer, who had just completed The Devil’s Ponddetails his income from this Edouard Bourdet: about 25,000 francs per year. “Not 100 and 200 thousand, like my glorious colleagues Sue, Dumas et Cie”she slips, because “I don’t know how to do business, I can’t resign myself to doing a loose job”. At least that’s enough to cover his needs. “I have always had enormous responsibilities, a family in misery, an escort of beggars of all kinds, and I have managed to save everyone there, while abstaining from any personal fantasy”continues Sand, the first French author to earn a living in this way, and is determined to continue. “As long as I am not at the end of my brain, which could last another ten years, she promises, I will live from my work. »
Then it forks and describes to Bourdet the Indre which flows at Nohant: “A pocket bathtub, but it is very pretty, very clear, flowing, shaded, with mounds of sand to sit and smoke your cigar while watching the gudgeons, irises, rushes and young ladies running around…” From dragonflies, she passes to herself: “I have never been a young lady, I have always been a boy, that is to say stupid, credulous and mystified”she wrote. “I am like in my novels, simple and silly, but good-natured and without emphasis or detour”, she adds in a following letter. Incidentally, the estranged wife of Baron Dudevant explains to the young man her views on marriage (“defective contract”) and provides him with marriage advice: “Do something very new, very distinguished, very artistic, very advantageous: always love your wife, love only her and never be unfaithful to her. »
Throughout her life, George Sand signed around 40,000 letters, already collected in 27 volumes. The new finds brought together here confirm the intelligence, humorous style and extreme liveliness of the writer, who never hesitates to defy convention. Beyond the delicious messages to her clerk, we see her recounting a quarrel with her husband in patois, despairing of the political situation, learning Latin at the age of 45, stocking up on wood, or even trying to convince the star comedian Frédérick Lemaitre to perform one of his plays. All with an imperturbable frankness: “I’m quite used to expressing my thoughts and I don’t keep a crumb at the bottom of my inkwell. »
Source: Le Monde