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George Sand’s thesis novel, Mademoiselle La Quintinie (1863), proposed to solve what Sand termed the gravest problem confronting modern France: the undue influence of the Catholic Church and its supporters (the parti clérical) in Second Empire politics and social life. Quintinie’s story of young lovers separated by their opposing religious beliefs articulates Sand’s prises de position on issues ranging from Church doctrine, the Italian Risorgimento and the contested legacy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The novel engages with, and even incorporates, works by other authors including Louis Veuillot, Octave Feuillet and Rousseau himself, framing Sand’s own opinions within a multi-voiced and highly partisan debate. This article considers Mademoiselle La Quintinie within this quarrelsome context, while also emphasizing the role that debate itself plays within the development of Sand’s thought.


This article was originally published in Women in French Studies, Vol. 22 (2014): 20-31.

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