- George Sand: Intertextualité et Polyphonie 1. Palimpsestes, Échanges, Réécritures ed. by Nigel Harkness and Jacinta Wright, and: George Sand: Intertextualité et Polyphonie 2. Voix, Image, Texte ed. by Nigel Harkness and Jacinta Wright
Scholarship in Sand studies bears fruit following the biannual international George Sand conference. Jacinta Wright of University College Dublin and Nigel Harkness of Queen's University Belfast hosted the George Sand Association's seventeenth colloquium [End Page 314] in 2006 in Dublin, Ireland, and their double-volume edition of the proceedings, George Sand: Intertextualité et Polyphonie, exhibits the importance of exchange and dialogue at these meetings. There are, in fact, productive correspondences between the dialogism practiced in Sand scholarship and the polyphony evident in Sand's writing. This collection of thirty-nine essays edited by Wright and Harkness examines, on the one hand, the dynamic rapport between Sand, her precursors and her contemporaries across her extensive writings, and, on the other hand, exchanges among discursive voices or between the arts. The editors explain in their jointly written introduction to the first volume that intertextuality and polyphony have special relevance for Sand. She rejects the Bloomian or vertical model of influence (and rivalry) to espouse a horizontal model of exchange, (af)filiation and dialogue with writers of diverse backgrounds, genders and reputations. Harkness and Wright argue that Sand's writing has much in common with poststructuralist conceptions of textuality such as Julia Kristeva's notion of intertextuality and Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of dialogism. Sand shares their interconnected and cooperative view of textuality, but as Harkness and Wright recognize, she did not subscribe to the "death of the author." Her ever-present authorial voice participated in dialogue. Intertextuality in Sand's writing also reflects the author's communal ethics and inter-artistic aesthetics; just as texts relate to each other, so subjects are understood as pieces in a mosaic that stick together (to use an image from Les Maîtres mosaïstes).
The introduction to Volume 2 written by Harkness brings to bear on Sand's works Roland Barthes's influential theories on voice and orality from Image, Music, Text (1977). Indeed, scholars such as David Powell and Peter Dayan have expertly shown elsewhere music's extensive influence on Sand's writings; however, Harkness here uses Barthes and Bakhtin to stress the musical, "polyphonic" texture of Sand's writing. Following Bakhtin, Dayan, in this volume, clarifies that "polyphony" or the musicological term for compositions with equal-voiced music, is strictly speaking absent in most writers' works, including Sand's; what we have in Sand is more properly understood as "heterophony," or dialogism, the interrelation of multiple, different voices. Together the contributions to the second volume manifest the importance of dialogue in the narrative structure, as well as in the plurality of discursive voices and points of view in the novels. As Harkness explains, Sand espouses a substantially different model of influence than her contemporaries; rather than strive for originality, or for impersonality, Sand "did not hesitate to draw attention to those who had influenced her by means of explicit citation" (2:12) and accordingly she sought "a more egalitarian concept of literary (inter-)relations, in which influence is acknowledged, incorporated, dispersed" (2:7). Instead of hiding from others' influence, the writer advocates her place within a community of voices.
Volume 1 provides a wealth of new perspectives on the intertextuality between Sand and other writers, both well known (Shakespeare, Hoffmann, Goethe), and lesser known (d'Urfé, Sedaine, Genlis), ranging from the eighteenth century (Rousseau, [End Page 315] Diderot), through the Romantic period (Balzac...