Marquis de Sade

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Donatien Alphonse François de Sade (2 June 17402 December 1814), better known as the Marquis de Sade, was a French writer of philosophy-laden and often violent pornography, as well as some strictly philosophical works. He propounded a philosophy of extreme licentiousness, unrestrained by ethics, religion or law, with the egotistical pursuit of personal pleasure being the highest principle. Sade was incarcerated in various prisons and in an insane asylum for about 32 years of his life. Much of his writing was done while imprisoned. The term "sadism" is derived from his name.


The 120 Days of Sodom (1785)[edit]

  • Le duc imita bientôt avec Bande-au-ciel la petite infamie de son ancien ami et il paria, quoique le vit fût énorme, d'avaler trois bouteilles de vin de sens froid pendant qu'on l'enculerait.
    • The Duke soon imitated his old friend's little infamy and wagered that, enormous as Invictus' prick might be, he could calmly down three bottles of wine while lying embuggered upon it.
    • The First Day
  • Nos quatre libertins, à moitié ivres, mais résolus pourtant d'observer leurs lois, se contentèrent de baisers, d'attouchements, mais que leur tête libertine sut assaisonner de tous les raffinements de la débauche et de la lubricité.
    • Our four libertines, half-drunk but nonetheless resolved to abide their laws, contented themselves with kisses, fingerings, but their libertine intelligence knew how to season these mild activities with all the refinements of debauch and lubricity.
    • The First Day
  • Le duc, le vit en l'air, serrait Augustine de bien près; il braillait, il jurait, il déraisonnait, et la pauvre petite, toute tremblante, se reculait toujours, comme la colombe devant l'oiseau de proie qui la guette et qui est près d'en faire sa capture.
    • The Duc, pike aloft, closed in upon Augustine; he brayed, he swore, he waxed unreasonable, and the poor little thing, all atremble, retreated like a dove before the bird of prey ready to pounce upon it.
    • The Second Day

Justine or The Misfortunes of Virtue (1787)[edit]

  • ...there is a sum of evil equal to the sum of good, the continuing equilibrium of the world requires that there be as many good people as wicked people...
  • Why do you complain of your fate when you could so easily change it?
  • Nothing we can do outrages Nature directly. Our acts of destruction give her new vigour and feed her energy, but none of our wreckings can weaken her power.
  • I think that if there were a God, there would be less evil on this earth. I believe that if evil exists here below, then either it was willed by God or it was beyond His powers to prevent it. Now I cannot bring myself to fear a God who is either spiteful or weak. I defy Him without fear and care not a fig for his thunderbolts.

Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795)[edit]

  • Voluptuaries of all ages, of every sex, it is to you only that I offer this work; nourish yourselves upon its principles: they favor your passions, and these passions, whereof coldly insipid moralists put you in fear, are naught but the means Nature employs to bring man to the ends she prescribes to him; harken only to these delicious promptings, for no voice save that of the passions can conduct you to happiness.
    • To Libertines
  • Lewd women, let the voluptuous Saint-Ange be your model; after her example, be heedless of all that contradicts pleasure's divine laws, by which all her life she was enchained.
    • To Libertines
  • You young maidens, too long constrained by a fanciful Virtue's absurd and dangerous bonds and by those of a disgusting religion, imitate the fiery Eugénie; be as quick as she to destroy, to spurn all those ridiculous precepts inculcated in you by imbecile parents.
    • To Libertines
  • And you, amiable debauchees, you who since youth have known no limits but those of your desires and who have been governed by your caprices alone, study the cynical Dolmancé, proceed like him and go as far as he if you too would travel the length of those flowered ways your lechery prepares for you; in Dolmancé's academy be at last convinced it is only by exploring and enlarging the sphere of his tastes and whims, it is only by sacrificing everything to the senses' pleasure that this individual, who never asked to be cast into this universe of woe, that this poor creature who goes under the name of Man, may be able to sow a smattering of roses atop the thorny path of life.
    • To Libertines
  • Lycurgus, Numa, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad—all these big scoundrels, all these big despots of our ideas knew how to bond their concocted divinities with their immense ambitions. Certain of captivating nations with the sanction of their gods, these villains, as we know, took care either to question their deities at an appropriate moment or to have them answer only whatever they believed could serve their purpose.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • The philosopher must teach these pupils [French students] that it is far less essential to understand nature than to enjoy and respect its laws; that these laws are both wise and simple; that they are written in all human hearts, and that one need merely question a heart in order to appreciate its impulses.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • The law which attempts a man's life [capital punishment] is impractical, unjust, inadmissible. It has never repressed crime—for a second crime is every day committed at the foot of the scaffold.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • You charming sex, you will be free; like men, you will enjoy all the delights that nature has made your obligations; you will not have to be constrained in any pleasure. Must the more divine section of humanity be clapped in irons by the less divine section? Ah, smash those chains—nature wants you to smash them! You should have no other limits than your leanings, no other laws than your cravings, no other morals than nature; stop languishing in those barbaric prejudices that caused your charms to fade and imprisoned the godly surges of your hearts.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans

"L’Aigle, Mademoiselle…"[edit]

  • I am a libertine, but I am not a criminal nor a murderer, and since I am compelled to set my apology alongside my vindication, I shall therefore say that it might well be possible that those who condemn me as unjustly as I have been might themselves be unable to offset the infamies by good works as clearly established as those I can contrast to my errors. I am a libertine, but three families residing in your area have for five years lived off my charity, and I have saved them from the farthest depths of poverty. I am a libertine, but I have saved a deserter from death, a deserter abandoned by his entire regiment and by his colonel. I am a libertine, but at Evry, with your whole family looking on, I saved a child—at the risk of my life—who was on the verge of being crushed beneath the wheels of a runaway horse-drawn cart, by snatching the child from beneath it. I am a libertine, but I have never compromised my wife’s health. Nor have I been guilty of the other kinds of libertinage so often fatal to children’s fortunes: have I ruined them by gambling or by other expenses that might have deprived them of, or even by one day foreshortened, their inheritance? Have I managed my own fortune badly, as long as I have had a say in the matter? In a word, did I in my youth herald a heart capable of the atrocities of which I today stand accused?... How therefore do you presume that, from so innocent a childhood and youth, I have suddenly arrived at the ultimate of premeditated horror? No, you do not believe it. And yet you who today tyrannize me so cruelly, you do not believe it either: your vengeance has beguiled your mind, you have proceeded blindly to tyrannize, but your heart knows mine, it judges it more fairly, and it knows full well it is innocent.
    • This passage comes from a letter addressed to his wife. It was written during his imprisonment at the Bastille.

Quotes about Sade[edit]

  • Sade has barely made a dent on American academic consciousness. It is his violence far more than his sex which is so hard for liberals to accept. For Sade, sex is violence. Violence is the authentic spirit of mother nature.
  • Simply follow nature, Rousseau declares. Sade, laughing grimly, agrees.
  • It may seem to be a long way from Blake's innocent talk of love and copulation to De Sade's need to inflict pain. And yet both are the outcome of a sexual mysticism that strives to transcend the everyday world. Simone de Beauvoir said penetratingly of De Sade's work that 'he is trying to communicate an experience whose distinguishing characteristic is, nevertheless its will to remain incommunicable'. De Sade's perversion may have sprung from his dislike of his mother or of other women, but its basis is a kind of distorted religious emotion.
  • This in turn suggests an answer to our question: what happened between the birth of De Sade and the birth of Krafft-Ebbing? The rise of the novel taught Europe to use its imagination. And when imagination was applied to sex, the result was the rise of pornography -- and of "sexual perversion."

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