TO GEORGE SAND: A DESIRE
To George Sand: A Desire
Thou large-brained woman and large-hearted man,
Self-called George Sand! Whose soul, amid the lions
Of thy tumultuous senses, moans defiance
And answers roar for roar, as spirits can!
(Except) Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Sand was one of many notable 19th-century women who chose to wear male attire in public. In 1800, the police issued an order requiring women to apply for a permit in order to wear male clothing. Some women applied for health, occupational, or recreational reasons (e.g., horseback riding), but many women chose to wear pants and other traditional male attire in public without receiving a permit. They did so at times to subvert dominant stereotypes. Sand was one of the women who wore men's clothing without a permit. Sand's male attire enabled her to circulate more freely in Paris than most of her female contemporaries, and gave her increased access to venues from which women were often barred, even women of her social standing. Also scandalous was Sand's smoking tobacco in public. While there were many contemporary critics of her comportment, many people accepted her behaviour until they became shocked with the subversive tone of her novels. Victor Hugo commented, “George Sand cannot determine whether she is male or female. I entertain a high regard for all my colleagues, but it is not my place to decide whether she is my sister or my brother.”
The most poplar writer of her day, I must admit I have never read George Sand, but I still I adore her! Love Susie x