Bohemianism and Counter-Culture


Main Page




 Horace is a novel about student life in Paris written by George Sand, a rebellious woman writer best known for dressing like a man. Although Sand herself is not usually considered a Bohemian because she was from an aristocratic background, she knew enough about the lifestyle of students and the urban poor to make Horace's Paris come to life.

Published in 1841, Horace was the first of Sand's novels to take place entirely in Paris (Godwin-Jones 108). Its narrator, Theophile, meets Horace in the first chapter of the book.


 George Sand, the author of Horace

"So here we have Horace, on the beautiful sidewalks of Paris, with his title of graduate and law student, his nineteen years, and his allowance of fifteen hundred francs. He had already been studying (or was supposed to have been studying) for a year when I met him in a little café across from the Luxembourg Gardens, where we both went every morning to drink hot chocolate and read the newspapers" (9).

Theophile soon discovers that his new friend has "no principles, convictions, nor scruples," as Robert Godwin-Jones wrote (110). He is lazy and spendthrift - he bought an extensive wardrobe and created huge debts. What's more, he ignores his studies. "He had not been to three law classes in his life; perhaps he hadn't cracked a book more often than that; and one day when I was examining the shelves in his room, I found only novels and books of poetry. He confessed he had sold all his law books" (40). Instead of studying law, he spends his days imagining that he is a great author. He begins story after story only to abandon all of them before writing a full page.

However, Horace's most important fault in the eyes of the author is his maltreatment of the women in his life, particularly Marthe. Marthe is the fiancee of Paul Arsene, a friend of Theophile's, when she meets Horace. She breaks her engagement and begins an affair with Horace while establishing herself as a well-known talented actress. She later returns to Arsene without telling Horace; when she admits that her child is Arsene's, not Horace's, Horace threatens to kill her.

Like Les Miserables, Horace comes to a climax with the revolution of 1832, in which Arsene fights bravely and, wounded, is aided by Marthe. Many of Sand's socialist philosophies are explained throughout the novel