For a woman of sixty-eight to be able to bathe every day in the cold water of the Indre is a great deal. In May, 1876, she was not well, and had to stay in bed. She was ill for ten days, and died without suffering much. She is buried at Nohant, according to her wishes, so that her last sleep is in her beloved Berry.
In conclusion, we would say just a few words about George Sand's genius, and the place that she takes in the history of the French novel.
On comparing George Sand with the novelists of her time, what strikes us most is how different she was from them. She is neither like Balzac, Stendhal, nor Merimee, nor any story-teller of our thoughtful, clever and refined epoch. She reminds us more of the "old novelists," of those who told stories of chivalrous deeds and of old legends, or, to go still further back, she reminds us of the _aedes_ of old Greece. In the early days of a nation there were always men who went to the crowd and charmed them with the stories they told in a wordy way. They scarcely knew whether they invented these stories as they told them, or whether they had heard them somewhere. They could not tell either which was fiction and which reality, for all reality seemed wonderful to them. All the people about whom they told were great, all objects were good and everything beautiful. They mingled nursery-tales with myths that were quite sensible, and the history of nations with children's stories. They were called poets.
George Sand did not employ a versified form for her stories, but she belonged to the family of these poets. She was a poet herself who had lost her way and come into our century of prose, and she continued her singing.
Like these early poets, she was primitive. Like them, she obeyed a god within her. All her talent was instinctive, and she had all the ease of instinctive talent. When Flaubert complained to George Sand of the "tortures" that style cost him, she endeavoured to admire him.
"When I see the difficulty that my old friend has in writing his novel, I am discouraged about my own case, and I say to myself that I am writing poor sort of literature."
This was merely her charity, for she never understood that there could be any effort in writing. Consequently she could not understand that it should cause suffering. For her, writing was a pleasure, as it was the satisfaction of a need. As her works were no effort to her, they left no trace in her memory. She had not intended to write them, and, when once written, she forgot them.
"_Consuelo and La Comtesse de Rudolstadt_, what are these books?" she asks. "Did I write them? I do not remember a single word of them."