George Sand’s Goat

In November of 1838 the writer George Sand travelled to Majorca with her two children and the ailing composer Frédéric Chopin. Winter in Majorca, her treatise against the island, was published in 1855. It was so excoriating that a rebuttal called To George Sand: A Refutation by José Quadrado soon followed. George Sand did not enjoy her stay in an abandoned Carthusian monastery, but she did like their pet goat.

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‘…we purchased a goat. She was the most gentle and lovable creature in the world, a lovely little African nanny, not yet two years old, with short chamois-coloured hair, a smooth hornless head, a pronounced Roman nose and drooping ears. These goat differ greatly from ours. They have the same cervine coat and ovine profile, but not the arch, saucy countenance of our playful kids. On the contrary, they seem full of melancholy…

…Our pet was enjoying her first maternity, and her milk had a delicate taste; but she was like a miser, especially when, parted from the herd among which she had been accustomed– no, not to gambol, being to solemn, too Majorcan for that- to stand musing on the top of a mountain, she fell into a state of gloom which was in certain respects analagous to our own. Though many fine weeds flourished in our courtyard, and aromatic plants, once tended by the Carthusians, were still to be found in our garden, nothing could reconcile her to captivity. She wandered bewildered and disconsolate through the cloisters, bleating so pitifully it would have moved a heart of stone. To keep her company we bought a fat sheep, with a thick white fleece six inches long, one of a breed now seen in France only on toy-sellers’ counters, or on our grandmother’s fans.’

Winter in Majorca, by George Sand, translated by Robert Graves, Valledemosa Edition, 1956

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