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Reviewed by:
  • Œuvres complètes. Fictions brèves: nouvelles, contes et fragments. 1865. Laura, voyage dans le cristal ed. by George Sand
  • Manon Mathias
George Sand, Œuvres complètes. Fictions brèves: nouvelles, contes et fragments. I865. Laura, voyage dans le cristal. Édition critique par Marie-Cécile Levet. Sous la direction de Béatrice Didier. (Textes de littérature moderne et contemporaine, 189.) Paris: Honoré Champion, 2017. 192 pp.

Laura, ou voyage dans le cristal, first published in 1864, is one of George Sand's richest texts. It engages with a range of concerns, from education to ecology, from science to sexuality, and from the question of marriage to the poetics of representation. Marie-Cécile Levet's comprehensive 'Présentation' gives a clear indication of this richness and does an excellent job of situating Laura in its literary and scientific context. Levet builds here on some of the points raised by Dominique Brunet in his Pocket edition of 2004, but also reveals the significance of Sand's work within a broader frame of reference. The introduction helpfully contextualizes the text in relation to other Sandian works, some of which might not immediately come to mind in connection with Laura, such as Le Secrétaire intime (1834) or lettres d'un voyageur (1837). These comparisons provide intriguing avenues for further research, for instance Sand's contributions to the philosophy of science. A further important point raised by Levet is the notion of 'doubling', a key feature of Sand's early works but revealed as a more sophisticated, multifaceted concept in this later Sandian text. The footnotes are meticulous and well researched: the notes on mineralogy, for example, are particularly extensive and for the first time the reader will be able to appreciate the deeper significance of Sand's terminology, such as the double meaning of 'coction' as a term from both cooking and mineralogy. The list of variants provided at the end will provide an excellent starting point for genetic criticism, and once again makes important contributions to scholarship, for example, Sand's emphasis on punctuation as an essential part of an author's style. Levet usefully includes details of previous editions, and among many interesting points raised is the fact that Laura was often published with other texts rather than on its own (a factor that potentially influenced its reception). Despite the rich inter-textual references and bibliography, anglophone criticism is not included here. This is a shame: the discussion of Laura's meta-linguistic dimension, for example, could have referred to Nigel Harkness's comparison of Sand and Verne ('"Textes fossiles": The Metatextual Geology of Verne's Voyage au centre de la Terre', Modern Language Review, 107 (2012), 1047–63). There is a welcome acknowledgement of Sand's early interest in earth sciences as demonstrated in Indiana (1832), but Sand's assumed reliance on Jules Néraud's notes in these geological descriptions needs to be revisited (see Manon Mathias, Vision in the Novels of George Sand (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), p. 24). Engagement with such scholarship could have strengthened further the suggestions made here about the significance of geology for Sand's poetics. Beyond these quibbles, however, this is a most welcome addition to the Champion collection of Sand's complete works. Although Brunet's edition is still helpful for anyone teaching this text, for those wishing to carry out an in-depth study of Laura, Levet's edition will be invaluable. [End Page 298]

Manon Mathias
University of Glasgow
...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1468-2931
Print ISSN
0016-1128
Pages
p. 298
Launched on MUSE
2019-05-17
Open Access
No
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