Indiana

By George Sand, Naomi Schor

2,132 ratings - 3.52* vote

The first novel that George Sand wrote without a collaborator, this is not only a vivid romance, but also an impassioned plea for change in the inequitable French marriage laws of the time, and for a new view of women. It tells the story of a beautiful and innocent young woman, married at sixteen to a much older man. She falls in love with her handsome, frivolous neighbor, The first novel that George Sand wrote without a collaborator, this is not only a vivid romance, but also an impassioned

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Book details

Paperback, 278 pages
January 11th 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA

(first published 1832)

Original Title
Indiana
ISBN
0192837974 (ISBN13: 9780192837974)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Duane

.This was the first novel of Amantine Aurore Dupin, better known in the literary world as George Sand. It is the story of Indiana, a young French Creole girl who grew up on the Isle of Bourbon, known today as Reunion. She is married to an older French nobleman and living in Paris. The plot revolves around her unhappy marriage, her love for a handsome young neighbor, and her friendship with Ralph, her loyal cousin and protector. The themes of the novel touch on adultery, unfulfilled love, and class and gender inequality in early 19th century France.

What led me to this novel was my interest in the author, George Sand, after having read a biography. Her highly unconventional lifestyle included several extra-marital affairs with well known men, one being Frederic Chopin, the composer, and a lesbian affair with actress Marie Dorval. Later in life she became good friends with Gustave Flaubert. Her interesting life is the subject of Elizabeth Berg's current bestseller, The Dream Lover: A Novel of George Sand

Gabrielle Dubois

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.

Jenny (Reading Envy)

I only read this book because it is set on Reunion Island off the east coast of Madagascar, wanting to read as many books set as many places in Africa as I cross countries and occupied territories off of my list. Technically Reunion is part of France, but isn't anywhere near it.

I know of George Sand from her relationship with Chopin, but this is the first book I have read by her.
It is the story of a "Creole" woman (the older version of the word, meaning anyone born in the islands, no matter their ethnicity. She marries a much older man, one who is commanding but she does not love. Most of the novel takes place around the July Revolution (1830) in France, events that lead to the loss of some of his financial stability. This along with her friend's death and her discovered love affair inspires him to move them back to Reunion. So half the novel takes place in gloomy France, and the second half takes place in Reunion.

The landscape of Reunion becomes important in the story (just do a Google image search for Bernica, so beautiful!) Indiana's cousin Sir Ralph helped raise her during her childhood on the island, has accompanied her to France when she gets married, and returns with them to the island. This becomes very important because while it is obvious to the reader, it is not obvious to Indiana that he has been pining for her.

The man she has the love affair with causes all sorts of dramatic problems (to be expected, considering the era), but it was frustrating that even with the death of her friend, she still feels entitled to this relationship.

Most of the dramatic moments in the book take place through angst-ridden letters or long declarative speeches. Not my favorite thing.

Also entwined in this novel is commentary on women and their place in society, how they have no control over their own lives, but Sand fights back a bit. In passages like this, Indiana reasserts the right to her personhood. Most of what I marked are versions of this sentiment:
"‘I know I’m the slave and you’re the lord. The law of the land has made you my master. You can tie up my body, bind my hands, control my actions. You have the right of the stronger, and society confirms you in it. But over my will, Monsieur, you have no power. God alone can bend and subdue it. So look for a law, a dungeon, an instrument of torture that gives you a hold over me! It’s as if you wanted to touch the air and grasp space.’"
And she does prove exactly how much will she has by following the direction of another man in the end. Yeah. Spoiler alert.

Celia

Indiana, was the first published solo novel written by Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, whose adopted pen name starting with this book was George Sand.

I had never read a book written by this author, so chose for my first, Indiana, the United State in which I was born.

Indiana is the name of the story's heroine. She is married to a man much older than she in a loveless marriage. Other characters are her maid, Noun (isn't that a neat name?), Ralph Brown, her cousin, and Ramon de Ramiere, a dandy who shows an interest in both Noun and Indiana.

The novel deals with many typical nineteenth-century themes. These include adultery, social constraint, and unfulfilled longing for romantic love. The plot itself was entertaining. I did not enjoy, however, the long-winded soliloquies of the main characters. There were not many of them, but just enough to be boring.

I am glad that I read this book. Might read another George Sand since this was her first book; she might have gotten better!! I did enjoy that the author inserted herself into the book, occasionally offering her opinion of the goings-on.

3 stars

Shannon

I'm currently in the final stages of writing a dissertation, so there's a chance I might be projecting my own mental state onto George Sand. But, reading Indiana, I constantly felt like she had something important to say that wasn't fully making its way into the text. The back cover of my copy promises "a powerful plea for change in the inequitable French marriage laws of the time", and it isn't that. It's something much more ambitious and subtle.

The important thing George Sand knows is something about Indiana herself, and the conditions of her life and personality that make her particularly vulnerable to the type of love offered by Raymon de Ramiere. It's also something about the form her love takes -- a constant struggle between the desire to sacrifice and the desire to fight back. I think part of the problem might be in the balance between the two impulses. The moments of rebellion are important and deserve more weight than they get in the novel. I wanted to know more about Indiana's inner life, and about what the struggle is like for her.

Instead, Sand's clearest vision is turned on Raymon, who was my favorite part of the book in spite of the fact that he's unremittingly terrible. As I was reading, I kept thinking that he's like a train wreck, except that turns out to be an insufficient metaphor because a train wreck is usually a one-time event. Raymon just keeps happening to people. His selfishness and stupidity repeatedly combine to put him in the most absurd situations, which would almost be funny if they weren't so tragic for everyone else involved.

Next to Raymon and his capacity for creating disaster, Sir Ralph and Indiana's husband seem almost nonexistent, which makes the novel's ending difficult to accept. Sand's problem, I think, is that there's no realistically good ending for Indiana, and the outlines of her character are too vague to support anything very melodramatic. I'm interested to read her later novels, though, and see if she comes back at the problem from a different angle.

Leni Iversen

Spent the first half of this book increasingly disgusted with the plot and the characters. I didn't care what happened to them. I also wondered if it read better in French. The dialogue especially seemed odd to me. (For clarification, I am used to reading 19th century novels, but I am mainly used to reading English ones.)

I kept reading mainly because I needed the book for a challenge, and because I was intrigued by the glimpses into French culture during the Bourbon Restoration. Then when I started the third part something happened. I don't know if it was simply that I got used to the writing style, or if it was because Indiana showed some spine, even if no brain. Or maybe it was the fact that the story moved out of the Delmare residence and into Paris, and I got to know their characters and their motivations better. There were some excellent indictments against French society and male dominance. And the plot thickened, repeatedly. I was kept wondering if we would get a happy ending or true Greek style tragedy. It was worth the read after all, but I kept thinking of that game where you add "with a chainsaw" after a title, and there were times when I really wanted "Indiana with a chainsaw" instead of "Indiana the Doormat who just wants to be loved".

Edita

There are moments of exaltation and ecstasy when our thoughts become, in a way, more pure, more subtle, more ethereal. These rare moments raise us up so high, carry us so far out of ourselves, that when we fall back to earth we lose the consciousness and the memory of that intellectual intoxication. Who can understand the anchorite’s mysterious visions? Who can relate the dreams of the poet before his emotion has cooled so that he can write them down for us?

Mary Eve

What a horribly tragic tale! Damn you, George Sand!!

Fariba

Contrary to popular opinion the most melodramatic romance ever written is not Madame Bovary, but Indiana by George Sand. What did I just read?! My feelings in emoji:1)?2)?3)?4)?5)?6)?7)?

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