English Translation of George Sand's les Maitres Mosaistes/the Master Mosaic Makers

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George Sand (1804-1876) was a major writer of the Romantic era in France who produced a series of important and varied works: feminist, regional and pastoral novels, books for children, texts of utopian vision and social concern. This work is an unjustly neglected, elegantly written product of her first sojourn in Italy with the poet Alfred de Musset. A fictional reconstruction of an important aspect of the artist’s life in late Renaissance Venice, it is also a rich and valuable representation of Sand’s aesthetic concepts. The precision and artistry of mosaic making suggest an apt metaphor for the complex pattern of words and images in a text. The novel is based on an historical account of the Zuccato brothers, the actual artists and artisans who are preserving and creating mosaics in the Basilica of Saint Mark’s. It expresses the author’s utopian dream for the creative person whose sense of craft and community would constitute real genius. After a very romantic rite of passage from spiritual death to rebirth, as the brothers endure a humiliating trial and prison experience, the artisan brothers succeed in affirming their worth as artists while they serve a common religious ideal. This translation would be useful for students and scholars interested in nineteenth-century literature, French Romanticism and aesthetics. It makes available to the general reader one of the finest examples of the great French novelist’s lesser-known works.


“Critical appreciation of the work of George Sand (1804-1876), one of the most important women writers in the French tradition, has grown over the last thirty years in parallel to the development of feminist literary studies. But even as her corpus has been rediscovered by readers and reevaluated by critics, a few gems have remained largely forgotten. With his translation of Sand’s The Master Mosaic Makers (1837), the first English rendition in over a century, the translator brings once again to light a multifaceted text whose critical reassessment is long overdue ... It is indeed a novel that can be enjoyed by a variety of readers, from non-specialists (such as the boy for whom it was written) to specialists in a variety of fields, including French literature, gender studies, Romanticism, and aesthetic theory.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Gretchen Schultz, Brown University

“ ... An expert in both French Romanticism and art, Dr. Henry Majewski is well qualified to translate this novel, and, in his Introduction, to put the novel into the greater context of Sand’s aesthetic concerns. His elegant translation truly captures Sand’s style, her rich variety of tones and her vivid descriptions. This is an immensely readable work, and will be of interest both to students and scholars of George Sand, Romanticism, and Nineteenth-Century French Studies.” – Professor Annie Smart, Saint Louis University

“ ... The writer’s rich and colorful work is vividly rendered by the translator, who deftly captures the uniqueness of Sand’s effusive style. In addition, Dr. Majewski’s excellent introduction situates the novel both within George Sand’s oeuvre and within the Romantic Movement as a whole, making more poignant for her readers Sand’s celebration of the (endangered) creative life of those artists who selflessly strive to produce great beauty.” – Professor Isabelle de Courtivron, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Table of Contents

Foreword by Gretchen Schultz
Introduction: George Sand’s Aesthetic Dream
Les Maîtres Mosaïstes – The Master Mosaic Makers – Sections I-XXIV
Selected Bibliography

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