August 2, 2021

‘The duende girl’, an innocent novel censored by the Franco regime


The cover of the book 'The Elf Girl'.

The cover of the book ‘The Duende Girl’.

Today’s reader is surprised that a “country novel” like The Goblin Girl (La Petite Fadette), which tells the candid story of two young people who fall in love and end up uniting in marriage, without any obscene or scathing component, was included in the 19th century in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index to the Forbidden Books) of the Vatican.

And it is even more surprising that the first Spanish translation of the work, published in France in 1849, did not see the light in Spain until 1982, almost a century and a half later, since the Franco regime, based on the Vatican antecedent, never authorized your edit.

The reason for the disapproval did not lie so much in the plot of the novel or in the condition of its characters as in the unique personality of its author, George Sand, a woman whose real name was Amandine Lucile Aurore Dupin. An exponent of literary romanticism, she had, according to her biographers, an intense social and love life, and was the great muse of the famous composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin, with whom she had an idyll that lasted a decade.

From an aristocratic family, Aurore Dupin became Baroness of Dudevant when she married Casimir Dudevant at the age of 18, with whom she had two children and from whom she separated nine years later. She was the forerunner of feminist ideals, defended free love, declared herself a republican in a France that was still monarchical, embraced the doctrines of humanitarian socialism, took the side of the most disadvantaged, denounced social injustices and had an extraordinary power of convocation in the intelligentsia of his time.

Friend of Gustave Flaubert and Alexander Dumas, she was a restless woman, with an overwhelming personality, who smoked and dressed like a man, and who came to bother the most immobile and conservative lineage in her time.

The Goblin Girl, published by Alba Editorial, is one of her four bucolic-themed novels and is set in the French region of Berry, where her paternal family lived and where she spent her childhood. The story narrates some of the adventures that, in their childhood and adolescence, two twins, Sylvinet and Landry, live to lead, as the knot of the novel, in the feeling of love that, unexpectedly, arises between the latter and a young woman from a poor family, little Fadette, who, abandoned by her mother, was raised by her grandmother, an old woman despised in the village and with a reputation as a sorceress.

With a certain air of a fairy tale, the novel presents a love story that seems impossible at first, due to class differences and social prejudices towards the young woman, with a reputation for being unsympathetic, witch and physically unattractive. But, as the plot unfolds, Fanchon Fadet’s image swings towards that of an intelligent, supportive, kind and attractive woman who makes her way into a rural and provincial environment and manages to reverse her reputation.

The masterfully written book captures the reader until it envelops him in an atmosphere in which not only love triumphs, but also faith in coexistence, progress and solidarity.

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