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The 120 Days of Sodom

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And he does recount the plight of prisoners. And this raises the question: is he identifying with the libertines or the prisoners? So, who knows? Did it have some therapeutic value for him? He was mentally unwell at the time he wrote it, and there is evidently an obsessive quality to the cataloguing of perversions.

One of the challenges for modern readers of Sade is that they are used to novels. You get these amplified figures, these exaggerated figures, like Gernande the vampire, or the giant Minski in Juliette —and they are all representing a particular quality or vice. Justine and Juliette are the same in that respect. Justine is an emblem of virtue, and for modern readers she feels like a character with whom we should empathise—particularly when all these horrible things happen to her.

But our empathy is probably not one that an eighteenth-century reader would have had. So, there is a sense in which our habits of reading fiction are not those that Sade would have anticipated. Can you briefly summarise the plot and the structure of The Days of Sodom? The plot is simple and horrifying. There are four libertines who each represent the four pillars of French society. You have a Duke, a Bishop, a financier, and a judge.

They also take with them four experienced prostitutes who are there to act as storytellers. There is an escalation of violence, and over the one hundred and twenty days, the passions become increasingly extreme and most of the prisoners are murdered. The difference with Sade is that they perform what they hear.

The castle moves, oddly. It starts off in Switzerland and then he changes the location to Germany. There is a fairy-tale aspect to the location: the forest has always been a richly significant space in storytelling. What Sade emphasizes in the introduction is the sense of isolation from the outside world. It is a place of absolute isolation from the outside world. And he creates these spaces of isolation in all his novels. Is it supposed to disgust? Is it a sinister blurring of these emotional categories? Is it horror or is it erotica? It might have been intended to arouse its author—who was also its reader, its only reader for a long period of time.

It is not interested in run of the mill sexual desires. It takes for its subject perversions—what we could call paraphilia these days. But the truth is that many if not most readers will find no such passion. I think what drives the cataloguing of perversions is not so much the desire to arouse but the desire to transgress, and to fantasize about transgression on a massive scale.

It may seem bizarre, but the Days was presented by sexologists as a work of science—which tells you the dodgy ground sexology was on at the turn of the twentieth century. But you can almost see why, because there is some sort of attempt at systematization. Passions are divided into four different categories within which there are these almost endless variations.

The whole very much takes the structure of a catalogue—so it does read like an early version of the Psychopathia Sexualis not a flattering comparison for the latter it must be said. So, sexologists promoted the idea that it was a work of science and nobody questioned it—because nobody other than a few hundred readers had access to the text it was initially published in a very limited and expensive private edition. The myth of the Days as a work of science endured right into the s and even s, with Sade talked about as a precursor to Krafft-Ebing and even to Freud.

It seems ludicrous now: many of the passions are simply twisted ways of killing people—with no sexual element at all. Some of the passions are horrible and shocking and upsetting, but others are just surreal and strange. Whoever that reader may be….

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Sade wrote it in the Bastille in on bits of paper that he glued together to form a scroll, which he then hid in a cylinder. Although he only wrote an incomplete draft he never returned to it at any point in the next four years.

Marquis de Sade - Wikipedia

He had the opportunity to finish it but never did. Then he was overtaken by events. Just before the Bastille is stormed he is moved to another prison in the middle of the night—he says, naked—and is not allowed to take all his affairs with him. He pleads with his wife to fetch his belongings but the day she goes is the day the Bastille is stormed.

It remained in the hands of his family for the rest of the nineteenth century. So, for a couple of generations, it was a well-kept secret. Then a German collector acquired it and a sexologist called Iwan Bloch published it for the first time in , but in an edition riddled with errors. He was the last editor to see the scroll in its entirety, and the only one to publish the novel uncorrected.

Justine: A Play in Four Acts Based on the Novel by The Marquis de Sade

All the French editions since his edition have corrected all the little errors and tidied up the punctuation. We kept the mistakes and tried to stay as close as possible to the original syntax. The Sade family kept the scroll until the s and then a bookseller friend of theirs offered to have it valued.

He smuggled it over the border to Switzerland and sold it to a collector called Nordmann. Legal wranglings ensued for the next three decades, essentially. But the director of this foundation is now being investigated for fraud because of the dubious ways in which he raised funds, and the foundation has been closed down. The scroll is now under lock and key and is likely to be sold as an asset.

I suspect—I hope—what will happen next is that the French National Library will buy it and make sure it never leaves France again. What is this short story about? So the Pygmalion myth of a man falling in love with his own creation is played out in this text as a father-daughter incestuous relationship.

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Franval raises his daughter in isolation from her mother and the outside world, and creates his own curriculum for her education—a little like Rousseau in Emile. Sade perversely presents Franval as progressive—for example, he refuses to have his daughter dressed in restrictive corsets and so on. Is the Marquis de Sade a moral relativist? Or is it better to think of him as an amoralist? Sade is very keen to point out that different cultures have different values and thus that there are no absolute values. There are different debates going on in that short story.

The priest, Clervil, serves as a spokesperson for Christian morality, and Franval often uses moral relativism to push back against Catholic doctrine. How convinced are you by the presentation of Franval as seemingly recanting his ways? He was now trying to become a respectable man of letters, so evidently he needed to have his villain recant at the end.

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And the circumstances in which he does so are rather odd: Franval gets caught in a thunderstorm and suddenly realises the error of his ways. And his conversion is pretty creepy too—the text talks about him profaning the dead body of his wife. Compared to the libertine championing or valorising of excess that we find elsewhere, how does the tone of this work compare? This is Sade being respectable-ish. Put politely, it is a scene of pornographic consumption and masturbation. There are little closets in the castle which remain closed to the reader.

He wants this story to be read.

At what level of the narrative is this unreliability found? Do we have an unreliable narrator? Is it the narrator who is unreliable or is it the author? The classic unreliable narrator is one who may be lying or mistaken as to the truth. The narrator is doing a certain kind of job. If this story were not by Sade, we would have fewer concerns about the narrator being unreliable. There seems to be hypocrisy in this story. But how much of that hypocrisy is the source of our own suspicion? If you read these you find exactly the same moral tone that Sade adopts, and equally lurid content.

I was put there for political, not hygienic reasons. In fact, the whole thing was engineered to discredit my work. A trick not altogether forgotten in modern times. At any rate, this play Marat , which has attracted so much attention, has raised suspicions that not only is the author mad, but so are those who would act in his play. But, I pronounce this play fully in the spirit of the original. Far from finding my characters insane, you will see that they behave in accordance with the highest standards of rationality set by the age and do nothing but upon philosophic reflection of the most refined kind.

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Save For Later. Create a List. Morlock and The Marquis de Sade. Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Book Preview Justine - Frank J. R 98 min Horror. A young girl travels to Cairo to visit her father, and becomes unwillingly involved with a bizarre sadomasochistic cult led by the charismatic Paul Chevalier, who is a descendant of the Votes: 1, Two drifters go on a pilgrimage from France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Along the way, they hitchhike, beg for food, and face the Christian dogmas and heresies from different Ages. Votes: 6, Justine Koo Stark wishes to remain innocent and virginal, but instead slips into a life of debauchery, torture, whipping, slavery and salaciousness. Meanwhile, her brazen, flirtatious and R 90 min Drama, Horror.

The Deranged Mind of the Marquis of Sade

Without a family, penniless and separated from her sister, a beautiful chaste woman will have to cope with an endless parade of villains, perverts and degenerates who will claim not only her treasured virtue but also her life. R 83 min Animation, Comedy. The scene is a pre-French Revolution Bastille, where various political prisoners are being held: a woman who was raped and impregnated by the king, a police chief who was accused of selling X min Biography, Drama, History.

Hounded by the police on charges of inflammatory writing, the once handsome Marquis De Sade seeks refuge in an abandoned family mansion. This colorful movie depicts DeSade's life from Not Rated 83 min Horror, Thriller. A collector comes into possession of the skull of the Marquis de Sade and learns it is possessed by an evil spirit. Votes: 2, Not Rated min Drama. Justine is a poor serving girl who tries to maintain her virtue and her standards.