By John Pierson
This summer we visited the manor house of Aurore Dupin at Nohant in the Berry region of central France. She had inherited it in the 1820s from her grandmother when young, and it was there that she achieved success as a writer under the pen name by which she became widely known: George Sand.
Sand was a radical, cigar-smoking, proto-feminist and socialist. She was also for nearly ten years from the late 1830s, in a close and intense relationship the composer Frédéric Chopin.
Much at the manor is as it was: the Romanesque church, the studio of the painter Eugene Delacroix, the manor house itself. Inside the house the dining room table is set for the noted guests — writers, poets, musicians — who were frequent visitors. The room where Chopin slept and worked is no longer as it was, for Sand uprooted everything that reminded her of the composer after their relationship ended.
It is enough, though, to move through the rooms of the house where they lived, to walk the paths and the gardens they walked, to visit the neighboring small towns and villages they visited — and to reflect on the beauty and transience of existence that Chopin, ever mindful of his own mortality, captured in the music he composed there.