If you don't know, George Sand is the very male pen name of the very female Aurore Dupin de Franceuil, born in Paris in 1804. To live independently and write novels, she defied convention and whatever else needed defying. For this she was much slandered and scorned, even by the alleged avant-garde of her day.
Take Baudelaire. Please. In another life, I want to be George Sand and tell Baudelaire to go to hell. I will never forgive him for calling her a slut. Flaubert, on the other hand, rightly adored her. I love reading their correspondence. He was her muse, she was his. About this novella, he wrote to her:
"Perfect! Marianne moved me deeply and two or three times I found myself weeping. I saw a lot of myself in Pierre and some pages could have been excerpts from my own memoirs, if I had talent to write like that. It's so charming and poetic and true. The Tour de Percemont I liked enormously but it was Marianne that literally enchanted me . . . You see how happy you have made me, but then you've never done anything but good and I love you most tenderly."
Flaubert was in some ways a beast and in most ways an old fart, but he was Sand's soul mate and darling, and he was right about Marianne.