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Consuelo

ideas, theories, rudolstadt and social

CONSUELO, which appeared from the hand of George Sand in 1842-43, a fantastic tale with a number of genuinely historical charac ters, reflects the innumerable theories of social reform and the mystical, quasi-philosophical ideas then in the air. George Sand was at that time under the influence of the religious radical Lamennais, of the humanitarian revolutionary Pierre Leroux, of the Polish musician Chopin, of the Polish poet Mickiewicz and his Slavic mysticism. The action of (Consuelo) is placed in the middle of the 18th century. The heroine, a wonderful Venetian singer, is a fanciful por trait of the author's friend, the singer Pauline Viardot. The character is made to embody the ideas of the Saint-Simonian socialists of Liszt and of Lamennais, as to the sacerciotal role of great musical artists. She is the pupil of the noted composer and singing-master Por pora. Eluding a selfish and unworthy lover, she escapes and enters the castle of the noble family of Rudolstadt in Bohemia as music teacher. The heir of the family, Count Albert, loves her. He is a strange being, living a mysterious life, who spealcs and acts as though he reincarnated previous human existences. Here is again seen the influence on the author of Leroux and his theories of the immortality of man in humanity. Consuelo, not sure of

her own love, escapes again and wanders through the world disguised as a boy with the young musician Haydn. At the court of Maria Theresa in Vienna she rises to fame in spite of the jealousy of her former lover's mistress, Corilla. But she is recalled to Rudolstadt by the illness of Count Albert whom she marries on his death bed, thus symbolizing the democ racy of art and humanity and the union of classes. The later history of Consuelo is con tinued at equal length in the sequel, (La Com tesse de Rudolstadt.) (Consuelo) seems to-day old-fashioned and long-winded, but it embodied the genius of its author and the aspirations of an age of reformers whose ideas were yet nebulous and impractical. On the other hand it did not strain the patience of readers who had not outgrown the long stories of wandering adventure Ilice (Wilhelm Meister,) nor entirely forgotten the mysterious castles of Mrs. Rad cliffe. (Consuelo) remains, therefore, an im portant document for the understanding of past social theories as well as a once very popular work of fiction.