_Correspondance_: To her mother, February 22, 1832.
This was true. Jules Sand had had his day, and the book of which she now speaks was _Indiana_. She signed this "George Sand."
The unpublished correspondence with Emile Regnault, some fragments of which we have just read, contains a most interesting letter concerning the composition of _Indiana_. It is dated February 28, 1832. George Sand first insists on the severity of the subject and on its resemblance to life. "It is as simple, as natural and as positive as you could wish," she says. "It is neither romantic, mosaic, nor frantic. It is just ordinary life of the most _bourgeois_ kind, but unfortunately this is much more difficult than exaggerated literature. . . . There is not the least word put in for nothing, not a single description, not a vestige of poetry. There are no unexpected, extraordinary, or amazing situations, but merely four volumes on four characters. With only just these characters, that is, with hidden feelings, everyday thoughts, with friendship, love, selfishness, devotion, self-respect, persistency, melancholy, sorrow, ingratitude, disappointment, hope, and all the mixed-up medley of the human mind, is it possible to write four volumes which will not bore people? I am afraid of boring people, of boring them as life itself does. And yet what is more interesting than the history of the heart, when it is a true history? The main thing is to write true history, and it is just that which is so difficult. . . ."
This declaration is rather surprising to any one who reads it to-day. We might ask whether what was natural in 1832 would be natural in 1910? That is not the question which concerns us, though. The important fact to note is that George Sand was no longer attempting to manufacture monstrosities. She was endeavouring to be true, and she wanted above everything else to present a character of woman who would be the typical modern woman.
"Noemi (this name was afterwards left to Sandeau, who had used it in _Marianna_. George Sand changed it to that of _Indiana_) is a typical woman, strong and weak, tired even by the weight of the air, but capable of holding up the sky; timid in everyday life, but daring in days of battle; shrewd and clever in seizing the loose threads of ordinary life, but silly and stupid in distinguishing her own interests when it is a question of her happiness; caring little for the world at large, but allowing herself to be duped by one man; not troubling much about her own dignity, but watching over that of the object of her choice; despising the vanities of the times as far as she is concerned, but allowing herself to be fascinated by the man who is full of these vanities. This, I believe," she says, "is the usual woman, an extraordinary mixture of weakness and energy, of grandeur and of littleness, a being ever composed of two opposite natures, at times sublime and at times despicable, clever in deceiving and easily deceived herself."
This novel, intended to present to us the modern woman, ought to be styled a "feminist novel." It was also, as regards other points of view. _Indiana_ appeared in May, 1832, _Valentine_ in 1833, and _Jacques_ in 1834. In these three books I should like to show our present feminism, already armed, and introduced to us according to George Sand's early ideas.
_Indiana_ is the story of a woman who had made an unfortunate marriage. At the age of nineteen she had married Colonel Delmare. Colonels were very much in vogue in those days, and the fact that he had attained that rank proves that he was much older than she was. Colonel Delmare was an honest, straightforward man in the Pharisaical sense of the word. This simply means that he had never robbed or killed any one. He had no delicacy and no charm, and, fond as he was of his own authority, he was a domestic tyrant. Indiana was very unhappy between this execrable husband and a cousin of hers, Ralph, a man who is twice over English, in the first place because his name is Brown, and then because he is phlegmatic. Ralph is delightful and most excellent, and it is on his account that she is insensible to the charms of Raymon de Ramieres an elegant and distinguished young man who is a veritable lady-killer.
Space forbids us to go into all the episodes of this story, but the crisis is that Colonel Delmare is ruined, and his business affairs call him to the Isle of Bourbon. He intends to take Indiana with him, but she refuses to accompany him. She knows quite well that Raymon will do all he can to prevent her going. She hurries away to him, offers herself to him, and volunteers to remain with him always. It is unnecessary to give Raymon's reply to this charming proposal. Poor Indiana receives a very wet blanket on a cold winter's night.