George Sand’s Lélia: Dissecting the Crocodile

Christine Doran

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In this article the focus is on one of the most challenging novels of the eminent nineteenth-century French author, George Sand. This novel, Lélia, is acknowledged by literary critics as an iconoclastic work of great originality, perhaps of genius. It probes deeply into the psychological malaise of its eponymous heroine, a disorder which the novelist explicitly takes as representative of a generation in French, indeed in European, society. Eclipsed to a large extent during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the literary reputation of George Sand has been revitalized more recently by feminist criticism. Here it is suggested that the analyses of feminist scholars have concentrated too narrowly on the character of Lélia, and the links between her psychological and sexual issues and feminist themes. In the interpretation offered here more attention is given to the roles of other characters. It is also argued that, because of critics’ focus on the characterization of Lélia, the plot structure of the novel, fairly simple as it is, has been unduly neglected. By broadening the focus to include other characters, and by giving more attention to the development of plot, it is argued that another theme, previously overlooked but also of vital feminist significance, comes to the fore: the devastating effects of sexual assault.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to) 52-67
    Number of pages16
    JournalWomen: a cultural review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2020


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