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  • Présence du roman gothique anglais dans les premiers romans de George Sand par Marilyn Mallia
  • James Illingworth
Présence du roman gothique anglais dans les premiers romans de George Sand. Par Marilyn Mallia. (Études romantiques et dix-neuviémistes, 81; George Sand, 3.) Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2018. 281 pp.

The influence of the gothic novel on George Sand is no secret. She references her readings of gothic novelists such as Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis on numerous occasions, and the gothic elements of Consuelo have frequently attracted critical attention. Marilyn Mallia’s study is, however, the first sustained exploration of Sand’s incorporation of gothic tropes in her novels, and in it she uncovers a far more substantial engagement on Sand’s part with the gothic than has been hitherto acknowledged. In particular, Mallia identifies three gothic tropes that prove especially productive to Sand’s aesthetic programme: the use of doubled heroines, gothic itineraries, and the gothic dénouement. The three chapters of Mallia’s study take each of these tropes in turn, focusing on texts produced in Sand’s early career with eponymous heroines (Indiana, Valentine, Lélia, Mauprat, Consuelo, and its sequel, La Comtesse de Rudolstadt). Mallia’s central argument is that Sand found in the gothic a particularly fruitful way of thinking through questions of female agency. In pursuing this line of enquiry, Mallia in no way wishes to detract from Sand’s creativity. Rather, her analyses expose the ways in which Sand playfully reworks these gothic elements, fully supporting her claim that ‘lire Sand sous l’angle du gothique, c’est mieux rendre compte de sa virtuosité et d’une influence tout à fait formatrice’ (p. 254). In this regard, readings of the doubled heroine are especially strong, productively moving beyond the core sororal pairs (Indiana/Noun, Lélia/Pulchérie, Consuelo/Wanda) to include often ignored characters and indeed even male characters as potential doubles of Sand’s fictional heroines. The originality of Sand’s aesthetic is what emerges most [End Page 463] vibrantly from Mallia’s study, which, in addition to demonstrating a profound familiarity with what is now an extensive body of Sand criticism, also displays a thorough knowledge of the gothic tradition. While novels by Radcliffe and Lewis loom large, Mallia’s sensitive readings also incorporate works by Charlotte Dacre, Mary Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft, among others, creating a detailed image of a complex network of influences. By concentrating on the first period of Sand’s literary output, Mallia’s corpus traverses familiar territory, comprising novels that have been staples of Sand criticism for decades. Mallia’s approach, however, provides a series of fresh perspectives on these texts and Sand’s interrogation of gender roles during the Restoration and under the July Monarchy. Breaking new ground, this tightly argued and elegant study is a valuable contribution to Sand scholarship, and Mallia’s conclusion rightly suggests ways in which her analyses can inform our understanding of Sand’s later works, too. More than this, though, her work provides an important reminder of the rich potential of transcultural perspectives, and a welcome re-evaluation of the influence of the gothic tradition in France.

James Illingworth
University of Exeter


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pp. 463-464
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