Deeper into Jeopardy! XXXIII: French Lit – $1200

Jeopardy! category: FRENCH LIT (11-12-2014)

$1200 clue: Here is Amantine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, known by this pen name; she loved Chopin in more ways than one

Correct response

The gist: Although she based her nomme du pleume on the name of a man with whom she collaborated, she’s remembered as one of 19th century Europe’s quintessentially independent women. 

George Sand, as she is better known, was born at her family’s country home in Berry in 1804. Her youth was spent in the rustic (remember that word) countryside and, for a few teenage years, at a convent. At 22 she married her first husband, but grew bored of the confined life and left her husband for Paris in 1831. While there, she developed many close relationships, platonic and otherwise, with artists, writers, composers, politicians, and thinkers. These most famously included the aforementioned Chopin, with whom she maintained a relationship for many years, and who became, unflatteringly, an inspiration for a character in her novel Lucrezia Floriani. The couple’s tumultuous (to say the least) sojourn to Majorca is also recorded in her A Winter in Majorca. Today, she is most noted for her acclaimed “rustic” novels, taking place mostly in the countryside of her youth. Among her most famous are the short novel François le Champi (or “The Country Waif”), about the relationship between a foster child and his adoptive rural family; La Mare au Diable (“The Devil’s Pool”), about a young widower pressured by his family to remarry; and La Petite Fadette, about identical twins who are forced to separate when their father’s vineyard collapses. She was well-known in her day, and continues to be remembered for, her flouting of societal convention, regularly wearing men’s clothing and indulging in “male” habits like smoking in public, besides more generally being a strong and outspoken woman in a severely repressed society. She was also politically radical and active within the revolutionary socialist Paris Commune. Many of her friends and enemies made comments about her along the lines of Russian writer Ivan Turgenev‘s quip: “what a brave man she was, and what a good woman.”

Portrait of George Sand

The clue: You don’t really need to know either George Sand’s real name or that she had a relationship with Chopin. All you need to do to get this clue is know of a female French author who is famous for her pen name. But this one went as a Triple Stumper (and, to be honest, I’d never even heard of her before), so it couldn’t have been too easy anyway. But it’s a good example of a clue that you can easily overthink, getting stuck on either of the main hints in it while losing track of the bigger picture.

In Jeopardy!: George Sand shows up in 37 clues in the J!Archive. 17 of those mention Chopin as well, with about an even split between the two in terms which the clue was looking for. France and French come in lower, at 11. Eight mention her pen name, often calling at a “male” name instead. It seems, though, the the Jeopardy! writers are more concerned with Sand’s affairs than with her creative output. Only five clues actually mention a work of hers by name: La Mare au Diable once, and Elle et Lui and A Winter in Majorca twice each – and those two latter books are written about affairs she had. Sad as it is to say, where Jeopardy! is concerned, you’re better off knowing about this remarkable woman’s love life than about her art. Sometimes there are more important things than Jeopardy!. Sometimes.

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