Chapter 4 examines the links between the novel and the ‘scientific gaze’. Comparing Sand’s approach to the natural sciences with the writings of Flaubert, Verne, and Zola, the chapter shows that Sand develops a distinctive response to scientific perception. Going against the assumption that Sand rejects the physical in favour of the ideal, the chapter offers a new reading of Sand as a scientific author and reveals her particular focus on the ocular in her later novels. Whereas scientific observation is usually associated with power and control, Sand’s knowledge of science leads instead to aesthetic and mystical wonder, as she celebrates the dynamism and mystery of the natural world. Sand’s rejection of the scientific eye as a means of mastering the real, coupled with her embrace of multidisciplinarity, is shown to be essential for her distinctive poetics which rejects both introspection and a realism exclusively focused on the detail.
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