Books: Liberty and Libido

GEORGE SAND: A BIOGRAPHY by CURTIS GATE 812 pages. Houghton Mifflin. $15.

In an age that could boast more than its share of eccentric geniuses, George Sand remained almost unchallenged in her reputation as the most provocative woman of her time. In the 19th century, as now, her public image was that of a cigar-smoking iconoclast in top hat and trousers, an unabashed libertine of dubious sexual inclinations. She was also the writer whom Dostoyevsky dubbed "the Christian par excellence" and whom Elizabeth Barrett Browning hailed as "the first female genius of any...

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