1 Fenrikus

Sade Music Titles For Essays

It’s very easy to hate Sade, and it has been so ever since the group emerged from London’s jazz-club scene in the early 1980s. Part of it is socio-cultural: although Sade Adu herself is hardly a poster child of privilege, given her position as a Nigerian immigrant whose biography was profoundly shaped by her parents’ divorce, it is nonetheless undeniable that her group’s soft, anodyne grooves soundtracked many a yuppie party in the 1980s. “Aural wallpaper,” as Robert Christgau dismissed it. Worse still are the band’s appreciators, most of whom make the error of mistaking the part for the whole and focus their adoration entirely on Adu herself, often in creepily sexual and objectifying terms. This puff piece on AskMen.com is an exemplar of the kind of coverage the band receives: Stuart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul Denman are almost entirely sidelined, while Adu’s voice is described as “sensual” and expressing a “raw sexuality”.

In case you weren’t entirely convinced that such descriptors are voyeuristic and a little exploitative, readers of the site can vote on which of Adu’s features make her most desirable: 70% of readers go for her face, and 14% for her body, while only 9% find her intelligence to be her most salient feature. (3% voted for her “wild side”, which is particularly laughable given the remarkable poise of her public persona and her famously guarded privacy - if indeed Adu has a wild side, none of the readers of AskMen.com would ever have been privy to it.)

Unthreatening lounge-jazz made by an exotic, sexy chanteuse and her white male sidekicks for the consumption of yuppies and urban sophisticates - what could be more antithetical to serious music? What could be less worthy of discussion? Yet Sade have persisted over decades of music industry turmoil, showing a longevity that cannot be written off as merely the by-product of a good marketing campaign and rusted-on baby boomer listeners looking for a new salve to ease the pain of their third divorce. For many listeners, the group’s virtues are best displayed on their multi-million selling 1984 debut, Diamond Life, which spawned the group’s best known work (‘Smooth Operator’, ‘Hang on to Your Love’, ‘Your Love is King’). But for all that Diamond Life typifies what the average listener might think Sade is about, it’s something of an anomaly in their catalogue: more uptempo and engaging than later work, seeking the approbation of its audience through the pyrotechnics of Stuart Matthewman’s flamboyant saxophone solos, and embedded within the cultural milieu of the London jazz scene. If you’re after a representative Sade album, you’re better off with their third, 1988’s Stronger Than Pride.

I would have encountered Stronger Than Pride very close to the time of its release, when I was around four or five years old; some of my earliest musical memories are of it. My parents were, and remain, avid fans of Sade, but they couldn’t be further from the stereotype of Sade’s core audience: they were a pair of barely-reconstructed hippies living in the bush just outside a tiny town in north coast New South Wales, Australia. That town, Dorrigo, seems in retrospect to be where the last vestiges of Haight-Ashbury hippiedom left at the fag end of the greed-is-good decade went to die. Believe it or not, many of my childhood friends were kids growing up in bona fide communes complete with the kinds of adult romantic entanglements gently satirised in Lukas Moodysson’s Together. My parents’ milieu at the time was one of bearded men who knew how to build their own sheds from recycled timber and women who kept bottles of Bach flower remedies in the cupboard for medical emergencies. And when these people got together to drink wine, puff on joints and talk about the bucolic lives they were building for themselves and their children, the soundtrack was more often than not Sade.

It sounds incongruous, and it may have only happened by accident. My parents were early adopters of the CD player, and rather than keeping a turntable and their old Pink Floyd and Neil Young LPs, they jettisoned their past musical tastes almost entirely and cleaved to the kind of albums that suited the crystalline clarity of the format: the plasticky synth-pop of Level 42, the Fairlight synthesis of John Farnham’s Whispering Jack, Simply Red’s A New Flame. Brash stuff, all of it - some might even say gauche - designed for immediacy and bereft of mystery. (Before you sneer at my parents, remember that this was before the internet made everyone a music archivist, and that we lived over an hour’s drive away from the nearest CD store, which would have had a miserable range in any case - it was tough being in the technological vanguard in Dorrigo circa 1989.) Sade’s albums may have slotted into my parents’ CD collection by virtue of being mega-selling discs of adult contemporary pop, but they stood out from their peers for their lightness of touch and subtlety.

That deliberate unobtrusiveness - which Pitchfork’s Jess Harvell has wonderfully captured in a phrase juste as “the kind of competency that’s always just a few steps from blandness” - is nowhere more marked than on Stronger Than Pride. The album’s production sounds fabulously expensive, thanks in part to the fact that it was recorded at Compass Point, but also strangely muted. Where both of Sade’s previous albums open with Matthewman’s extravagant saxophone licks, Stronger Than Pride opens with a single grace note of Adu’s voice before launching into a fully-formed verse of ‘Love is Stronger Than Pride’, which gives it the quality of beginning in media res.

Nothing is there to seduce us into Sade’s quiet storm; if you’re not already primed for ultra-smooth cool jazz, you can fuck off. That may seem like an overly aggressive way to put it, but Stronger Than Pride is, in its own weird way, quite aggressive in its commitment to a kind of radical understatement. Where another singer would use Matthewman, Hale, and Denman’s exquisitely restrained backdrop as a canvas on which to splash colourful vocal histrionics, Adu paints grey on grey: even when she’s delivering a stern warning such as “never dare to doubt me” (on ‘Haunt Me’), her poise is glacially composed. Even when this compact between singer and band is broken, Adu is not the party at fault. ‘Turn My Back on You’ is backed by a cod–hip hop beat, a crunchy, deliberately awkward groove that sounds like a band searching vainly for the faux-naïf charm that propelled ‘Genius Of Love’ up the charts seven years earlier. You’d never know from Adu’s singing, which thankfully sounds completely unmoored from its backdrop.

Aloofness is not an emotion that listeners readily sympathise with. We’re too accustomed to seeing it as an indication that a singer is not really ‘there’; we understand through a semiotic shorthand that passion = dedication = proficiency. (Think of all those warbling wannabe starlets on The Voice whose sole aim is to out-emote Adele.) If Stronger Than Pride has anything to teach the current moment in pop music, it’s that aloofness and irony, properly harnessed, can be thoroughly captivating. Take the album’s title, which is a perfect example of ironic process theory: it informs us that something (in this case it’s love, as listeners discover within moments of playing the album) is stronger than pride, but through a linguistic sleight of hand, the only words we have recourse to are “strength” and “pride”. (The cover photo of Adu on a beach, all steely mid-distance gaze and aristocratic hauteur, certainly helps give the impression that pride is the album’s true subject, no matter what the title says.)

The subject matter of the song ‘Love Is Stronger Than Pride’ is an embarrassing romantic rout: Adu sings, “I can’t hate you / Although I have tried”; her love for the song’s subject has made her craven. But the delivery is another matter entirely: icy and reserved, it allows her to fully express the humiliation that sees her adore this man against her will. It holds true throughout the entire album: scratch an emotion presented in the lyrics and you will find its obverse lurking beneath. ‘Paradise’ may be a paean to the joys of committed romance, but when Adu sings “Ooooh, what a life” she sounds as bored as an heiress surveying the prospect of another anhedonic week of champagne and cocaine.

This level of irony and detachment may now be de rigeur in certain musical circles - it’s much the same force that propels The Weeknd’s excellent ‘The Morning’ and Destroyer’s soft-disco epic ‘Bay Of Pigs’. Yet in the context of late eighties pop, and in a world where music streaming services didn’t exist to offer listeners deep silos of self-directed musical interest, Stronger Than Pride offered a salutary lesson in the accessibility of rich contradictions, one that the musical culture is still absorbing today.

For the French post-punk band, see Marquis de Sade (band).

"De Sade" redirects here. For the 1969 film, see De Sade (film).

Marquis de Sade

Portrait of Donatien Alphonse François de Sade by Charles Amédée Philippe van Loo.[citation needed] The drawing dates to 1760, when de Sade was 19 years old, and is the only known authentic portrait of the Marquis.[1]

BornDonatien Alphonse François de Sade
(1740-06-02)2 June 1740
Paris, France
Died2 December 1814(1814-12-02) (aged 74)
Charenton, Val-de-Marne, France
Notable workThe 120 Days of Sodom (1789)
Justine (1791)
Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795)
Juliette (1799)
Spouse(s)Renée-Pélagie Cordier de Launay (m. 1763–1810); her death
Era18th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy

Main interests

Pornography, eroticism, politics

Notable ideas



  • Algernon Charles Swinburne, Isidore Isou, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Jean Genet, Jesús Franco, Friedrich Nietzsche, Comte de Lautréamont, Antonin Artaud, Dennis Cooper, Georges Bataille, Samuel R. Delany, Charles Baudelaire, Simone de Beauvoir, Angela Carter, Samuel Beckett, Jim Morrison, Yukio Mishima, Guillaume Apollinaire, Michel Foucault, Pierre Klossowski, Camille Paglia, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Pete Doherty, Surrealism, Guy Debord, John Waters, Jacques Lacan, Susan Sontag

Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (2 June 1740 – 2 December 1814) (French: [maʁki də sad]), was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher, and writer, famous for his libertinesexuality. His works include novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts; in his lifetime some were published under his own name, while others appeared anonymously, of which Sade denied being the author. Sade is best known for his erotic works, which combined philosophical discourse with pornography, depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence, criminality, and blasphemy against Christianity. He was a proponent of extreme freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion, or law. The words sadism and sadist are derived from his name.

Sade was incarcerated in various prisons and an insane asylum for about 32 years of his life: 11 years in Paris (10 of which were spent in the Bastille), a month in the Conciergerie, two years in a fortress, a year in Madelonnettes Convent, three years in Bicêtre Asylum, a year in Sainte-Pélagie Prison, and 12 years in the Charenton Asylum. During the French Revolution, he was an elected delegate to the National Convention. Many of his works were written in prison.

There continues to be a fascination with Sade amongst scholars and in popular culture, prolific French intellectuals such as Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault have published studies of him.[2] There have also been numerous film adaptions of his work, the most notable being Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, an adaption of his infamous book, The 120 Days of Sodom.


Early life and education[edit]

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade was born on 2 June 1740, in the Hôtel de Condé, Paris, to Jean Baptiste François Joseph, Count de Sade and Marie Eléonore de Maillé de Carman, cousin and Lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Condé. He was his parents' only surviving child.[3] He was educated by an uncle, the Abbé de Sade. In Sade's youth, his father abandoned the family; his mother joined a convent.[4] He was raised with servants who indulged "his every whim," which led to his becoming "known as a rebellious and spoiled child with an ever-growing temper."[4]

Later in his childhood, Sade was sent to the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris,[4] a Jesuit college, for four years.[3] While at the school, he was tutored by Abbé Jacques-François Amblet, a priest.[5] Later in life, at one of Sade's trials the Abbé testified, saying that Sade had a "passionate temperament which made him eager in the pursuit of pleasure" but had a "good heart."[5] At the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, he was subjected to "severe corporal punishment," including "flagellation," and he "spent the rest of his adult life obsessed with the violent act."[4] At age 14, Sade began attending an elite military academy.[3]

After 20 months of training, on 14 December 1755, at age 15, Sade was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant, becoming a soldier.[5] After 13 months as a sub-lieutenant, he was commissioned to the rank of cornet in the Brigade de S. André of the Comte de Provence's Carbine Regiment.[5] He eventually became Colonel of a Dragoon regiment and fought in the Seven Years' War. In 1763, on returning from war, he courted a rich magistrate's daughter, but her father rejected his suitorship and instead arranged a marriage with his elder daughter, Renée-Pélagie de Montreuil; that marriage produced two sons and a daughter.[6] In 1766, he had a private theatre built in his castle, the Château de Lacoste, in Provence. In January 1767, his father died.

Title and heirs[edit]

The men of the Sade family alternated between using the marquis and comte (count) titles. His grandfather, Gaspard François de Sade, was the first to use marquis;[7] occasionally, he was the Marquis de Sade, but is identified in documents as the Marquis de Mazan. The Sade family were noblesse d'épée, claiming at the time the oldest, Frank-descended nobility, so assuming a noble title without a King's grant, was customarily de rigueur. Alternating title usage indicates that titular hierarchy (below duc et pair) was notional; theoretically, the marquis title was granted to noblemen owning several countships, but its use by men of dubious lineage caused its disrepute. At Court, precedence was by seniority and royal favor, not title. There is father-and-son correspondence, wherein father addresses son as marquis.[citation needed]

For many years, Sade's descendants regarded his life and work as a scandal to be suppressed. This did not change until the mid-twentieth century, when the Comte Xavier de Sade reclaimed the marquis title, long fallen into disuse, on his visiting cards,[8] and took an interest in his ancestor's writings. At that time, the "divine marquis" of legend was so unmentionable in his own family that Xavier de Sade only learned of him in the late 1940s when approached by a journalist.[9] He subsequently discovered a store of Sade's papers in the family château at Condé-en-Brie, and worked with scholars for decades to enable their publication.[1] His youngest son, the Marquis Thibault de Sade, has continued the collaboration. The family have also claimed a trademark on the name.[10] The family sold the Château de Condé in 1983.[11] As well as the manuscripts they retain, others are held in universities and libraries. Many, however, were lost in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A substantial amount were destroyed after Sade's death at the instigation of his son, Donatien-Claude-Armand.[12]

Scandals and imprisonment[edit]

Sade lived a scandalous libertine existence and repeatedly procured young prostitutes as well as employees of both sexes in his castle in Lacoste. He was also accused of blasphemy, a serious offense at that time. His behavior also included an affair with his wife's sister, Anne-Prospère, who had come to live at the castle.[1]

Beginning in 1763, Sade lived mainly in or near Paris. Several prostitutes there complained about mistreatment by him and he was put under surveillance by the police, who made detailed reports of his activities. After several short imprisonments, which included a brief incarceration in the Château de Saumur (then a prison), he was exiled to his château at Lacoste in 1768.[13]

The first major scandal occurred on Easter Sunday in 1768, in which Sade procured the services of a woman, Rose Keller,[14] a widow-beggar who approached him for alms. He told her she could make money by working for him—she understood her work to be that of a housekeeper. At his chateau at Arcueil, Sade ripped her clothes off, threw her on a divan and tied her by the four limbs, face-down, so that she could not see behind her. Then he whipped her. Keller testified that he made various incisions on her body into which he poured hot wax, although investigators found no broken skin on Keller, and Sade explained that he had applied ointment to her after the whipping. Keller finally escaped by climbing out of a second-floor window and running away. At this time, la Présidente, Sade's mother-in-law, obtained a lettre de cachet (a royal order of arrest and imprisonment, without stated cause or access to the courts) from the King, excluding Sade from the jurisdiction of the courts. The lettre de cachet would later prove disastrous for the marquis.[15]

In 1772, an episode in Marseille involved the non-lethal incapacitating of prostitutes with the supposed aphrodisiacSpanish fly and sodomy with Latour, his manservant. That year, the two men were sentenced to death in absentia for sodomy and the poisoning. They fled to Italy, Sade taking his wife's sister with him. Sade and Latour were caught and imprisoned at the Fortress of Miolans in late 1772, but escaped four months later.

Sade later hid at Lacoste, where he rejoined his wife, who became an accomplice in his subsequent endeavors.[1] He kept a group of young employees at Lacoste, most of whom complained about sexual mistreatment and quickly left his service. Sade was forced to flee to Italy once again. It was during this time he wrote Voyage d'Italie. In 1776, he returned to Lacoste, again hired several servant girls, most of whom fled. In 1777, the father of one of those employees went to Lacoste to claim his daughter, and attempted to shoot the Marquis at point-blank range, but the gun misfired.

Later that year, Sade was tricked into going to Paris to visit his supposedly ill mother, who in fact had recently died. He was arrested there and imprisoned in the Château de Vincennes. He successfully appealed his death sentence in 1778, but remained imprisoned under the lettre de cachet. He escaped but was soon recaptured. He resumed writing and met fellow prisoner Comte de Mirabeau, who also wrote erotic works. Despite this common interest, the two came to dislike each other intensely.[16]

In 1784, Vincennes was closed, and Sade was transferred to the Bastille. On 2 July 1789, he reportedly shouted out from his cell to the crowd outside, "They are killing the prisoners here!", and a disturbance began to foment.[1] Two days later, he was transferred to the insane asylum at Charenton near Paris. The storming of the Bastille, a major event of the French Revolution, would occur a few days later on 14 July.

Sade had been working on his magnum opusLes 120 Journées de Sodome (The 120 Days of Sodom). To his despair, he believed that the manuscript was destroyed in the storming of the Bastille, but he continued to write.[1]

In 1790, he was released from Charenton after the new National Constituent Assembly abolished the instrument of lettre de cachet. His wife obtained a divorce soon after.

Return to freedom, delegate to the National Convention, and imprisonment[edit]

During Sade's time of freedom, beginning in 1790, he published several of his books anonymously. He met Marie-Constance Quesnet, a former actress, and mother of a six-year-old son, who had been abandoned by her husband. Constance and Sade would stay together for the rest of his life.

He initially ingratiated himself with the new political situation after the revolution, supported the Republic,[17] called himself "Citizen Sade", and managed to obtain several official positions despite his aristocratic background.

Because of the damage done to his estate in Lacoste, which was sacked in 1789 by an angry mob, he moved to Paris. In 1790, he was elected to the National Convention, where he represented the far left. He was a member of the Piques section, notorious for its radical views. He wrote several political pamphlets, in which he called for the implementation of direct vote. However, there is much to suggest that he suffered abuse from his fellow revolutionaries due to his aristocratic background. Matters were not helped by his son's May 1792 desertion from the military, where he had been serving as a second lieutenant and the aide-de-camp to an important colonel, the Marquis de Toulengeon. Sade was forced to disavow his son's desertion in order to save himself. Later that year, his name was added – whether by error or wilful malice – to the list of émigrés of the Bouches-du-Rhônedepartment.[18]

While claiming he was opposed to the Reign of Terror in 1793, he wrote an admiring eulogy for Jean-Paul Marat.[citation needed] At this stage, he was becoming publicly critical of Maximilien Robespierre and, on 5 December, he was removed from his posts, accused of "moderatism", and imprisoned for almost a year. He was released in 1794 after the end of the Reign of Terror.

In 1796, now all but destitute, he had to sell his ruined castle in Lacoste.

Imprisonment for his writings and death[edit]

In 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the arrest of the anonymous author of Justine and Juliette.[1] Sade was arrested at his publisher's office and imprisoned without trial; first in the Sainte-Pélagie Prison and, following allegations that he had tried to seduce young fellow prisoners there, in the harsh Bicêtre Asylum.

After intervention by his family, he was declared insane in 1803 and transferred once more to the Charenton Asylum. His ex-wife and children had agreed to pay his pension there. Constance, pretending to be his relative, was allowed to live with him at Charenton. The benign director of the institution, Abbé de Coulmier, allowed and encouraged him to stage several of his plays, with the inmates as actors, to be viewed by the Parisian public.[1] Coulmier's novel approaches to psychotherapy attracted much opposition. In 1809, new police orders put Sade into solitary confinement and deprived him of pens and paper. In 1813, the government ordered Coulmier to suspend all theatrical performances.

Sade began a sexual relationship with 14-year-old Madeleine LeClerc, daughter of an employee at Charenton. This affair lasted some 4 years, until his death in 1814.

He had left instructions in his will forbidding that his body be opened for any reason whatsoever, and that it remain untouched for 48 hours in the chamber in which he died, and then placed in a coffin and buried on his property located in Malmaison near Épernon. These instructions were not followed; he was buried at Charenton. His skull was later removed from the grave for phrenological examination.[1] His son had all his remaining unpublished manuscripts burned, including the immense multi-volume work Les Journées de Florbelle.

Appraisal and criticism[edit]

Numerous writers and artists, especially those concerned with sexuality, have been both repelled and fascinated by Sade. He has garnered the title of "rapist" and "pedophile", and critics have debated whether his work has any redeeming value. An article in The Independent, a British online newspaper, gives contrasting views: the French novelist, Pierre Guyotat, says, “Sade is, in a way, our Shakespeare. He has the same sense of tragedy, the same sweeping grandeur.”, while Michael Onfray says, "it is intellectually bizarre to make Sade a hero... Even according to his most hero-worshipping biographers, this man was a sexual delinquent".[19]

The contemporary rival pornographer Rétif de la Bretonne published an Anti-Justine in 1798.

Geoffrey Gorer, an English anthropologist and author (1905–1985), wrote one of the earliest books on Sade entitled The Revolutionary Ideas of the Marquis de Sade in 1935. He pointed out that Sade was in complete opposition to contemporary philosophers for both his "complete and continual denial of the right to property" and for viewing the struggle in late 18th century French society as being not between "the Crown, the bourgeoisie, the aristocracy or the clergy, or sectional interests of any of these against one another", but rather all of these "more or less united against the proletariat." By holding these views, he cut himself off entirely from the revolutionary thinkers of his time to join those of the mid-nineteenth century. Thus, Gorer argued, "he can with some justice be called the first reasoned socialist."[20]

Simone de Beauvoir (in her essay Must we burn Sade?, published in Les Temps modernes, December 1951 and January 1952) and other writers have attempted to locate traces of a radical philosophy of freedom in Sade's writings, preceding modern existentialism by some 150 years. He has also been seen as a precursor of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis in his focus on sexuality as a motive force. The surrealists admired him as one of their forerunners, and Guillaume Apollinaire famously called him "the freest spirit that has yet existed".[21]

Pierre Klossowski, in his 1947 book Sade Mon Prochain ("Sade My Neighbour"), analyzes Sade's philosophy as a precursor of nihilism, negating Christian values and the materialism of the Enlightenment.

One of the essays in Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947) is titled "Juliette, or Enlightenment and Morality" and interprets the ruthless and calculating behavior of Juliette as the embodiment of the philosophy of enlightenment. Similarly, psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan posited in his 1966 essay "Kant avec Sade" that Sade's ethics was the complementary completion of the categorical imperative originally formulated by Immanuel Kant. However, at least one philosopher has rejected Adorno and Horkheimer’s claim that Sade's moral skepticism is actually coherent, or that it reflects Enlightenment thought.[22][23]

In his 1988 Political Theory and Modernity, William E. Connolly analyzes Sade's Philosophy in the Bedroom as an argument against earlier political philosophers, notably Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes, and their attempts to reconcile nature, reason, and virtue as bases of ordered society. Similarly, Camille Paglia[24] argued that Sade can be best understood as a satirist, responding "point by point" to Rousseau's claims that society inhibits and corrupts mankind's innate goodness: Paglia notes that Sade wrote in the aftermath of the French Revolution, when Rousseauist Jacobins instituted the bloody Reign of Terror and Rousseau's predictions were brutally disproved. "Simply follow nature, Rousseau declares. Sade, laughing grimly, agrees."[25]

In The Sadeian Woman: And the Ideology of Pornography (1979), Angela Carter provides a feminist reading of Sade, seeing him as a "moral pornographer" who creates spaces for women. Similarly, Susan Sontag defended both Sade and Georges Bataille's Histoire de l'oeil (Story of the Eye) in her essay "The Pornographic Imagination" (1967) on the basis their works were transgressive texts, and argued that neither should be censored. By contrast, Andrea Dworkin saw Sade as the exemplary woman-hating pornographer, supporting her theory that pornography inevitably leads to violence against women. One chapter of her book Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1979) is devoted to an analysis of Sade. Susie Bright claims that Dworkin's first novel Ice and Fire, which is rife with violence and abuse, can be seen as a modern retelling of Sade's Juliette.[26]


Various influential cultural figures have expressed a great interest in Sade's work, including the French philosopher Michel Foucault,[27] the American film maker John Waters[28] and the Spanish filmmaker Jesús Franco. The poet Algernon Charles Swinburne is also said to have been highly influenced by Sade.[29]Nikos Nikolaidis' 1979 film The Wretches Are Still Singing was shot in a surreal way with a predilection for the aesthetics of the Marquis de Sade; Sade is said to have influenced Romantic and Decadent authors such as Charles Baudelaire, Gustave Flaubert, Algernon Swinburne, and Rachilde; and to have influenced a growing popularity of nihilism in Western thought.[30] Sade's notions on strength and weakness and good and evil, such as the "equilibrium" of good and evil in the world required by Nature which the monk Clément mentions in Justine,[31] may have also been a considerable influence on Friedrich Nietzsche, particularly concerning the views on good and evil in Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morality (1887).

The philosopher of egoist anarchismMax Stirner is also speculated to have been influenced by Sade's work.[32]

Serial killer Ian Brady, who with Myra Hindley carried out torture and murder of children known as the Moors murders in England during the 1960s, was fascinated by Sade, and the suggestion was made at their trial and appeals[33] that the tortures of the children (the screams and pleadings of whom they tape-recorded) were influenced by Sade's ideas and fantasies. According to Donald Thomas, who has written a biography on Sade, Brady and Hindley had read very little of Sade's actual work; the only book of his they possessed was an anthology of excerpts that included none of his most extreme writings.[34] In the two suitcases found by the police that contained books that belonged to Brady was The Life and Ideas of the Marquis de Sade.[35] Hindley herself claimed that Brady would send her to obtain books by Sade, and that after reading them he became sexually aroused and beat her.[36]

In Philosophy in the Bedroom Sade proposed the use of induced abortion for social reasons and population control, marking the first time the subject had been discussed in public. It has been suggested that Sade's writing influenced the subsequent medical and social acceptance of abortion in Western society.[37]

Cultural depictions[edit]

Main article: Marquis de Sade in popular culture

There have been many and varied references to the Marquis de Sade in popular culture, including fictional works and biographies. The eponym of the psychological and subcultural term sadism, his name is used variously to evoke sexual violence, licentiousness, and freedom of speech.[2] In modern culture his works are simultaneously viewed as masterful analyses of how power and economics work, and as erotica.[38] Sade's sexually explicit works were a medium for the articulation of the corrupt and hypocritical values of the elite in his society, which caused him to become imprisoned. He thus became a symbol of the artist's struggle with the censor. Sade's use of pornographic devices to create provocative works that subvert the prevailing moral values of his time inspired many other artists in a variety of media. The cruelties depicted in his works gave rise to the concept of sadism. Sade's works have to this day been kept alive by artists and intellectuals because they espouse a philosophy of extreme individualism.[39]

In the late 20th century, there was a resurgence of interest in Sade; leading French intellectuals like Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault published studies of the philosopher, and interest in Sade among scholars and artists continued.[2] In the realm of visual arts, many surrealist artists had interest in the "Divine Marquis." Sade was celebrated in surrealist periodicals, and feted by figures such as Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Éluard, and Maurice Heine; Man Ray admired Sade because he and other surrealists viewed him as an ideal of freedom.[39] The first Manifesto of Surrealism (1924) announced that "Sade is surrealist in sadism", and extracts of the original draft of Justine were published in Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution.[40] In literature, Sade is referenced in several stories by horror and science fiction writer (and author of Psycho) Robert Bloch, while Polish science fiction author Stanisław Lem wrote an essay analyzing the game theory arguments appearing in Sade's Justine.[41] The writer Georges Bataille applied Sade's methods of writing about sexual transgression to shock and provoke readers.[39]

Sade's life and works have been the subject of numerous fictional plays, films, pornographic or erotic drawings, etchings, and more. These include Peter Weiss's play Marat/Sade, a fantasia extrapolating from the fact that Sade directed plays performed by his fellow inmates at the Charenton asylum.[42]Yukio Mishima, Barry Yzereef, and Doug Wright also wrote plays about Sade; Weiss's and Wright's plays have been made into films. His work is referenced on film at least as early as Luis Buñuel's L'Âge d'Or (1930), the final segment of which provides a coda to 120 Days of Sodom, with the four debauched noblemen emerging from their mountain retreat. In 1969, American International Films released a German-made production called de Sade, with Keir Dullea in the title role. Pier Paolo Pasolini filmed Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), updating Sade's novel to the brief Salò Republic; Benoît Jacquot's Sade and Philip Kaufman's Quills (from the play of the same name by Doug Wright) both hit cinemas in 2000. Quills, inspired by Sade's imprisonment and battles with the censorship in his society,[39] portrays him as a literary freedom fighter who is a martyr to the cause of free expression.[43]

Often Sade himself has been depicted in American popular culture less as a revolutionary or even as a libertine and more akin to a sadistic, tyrannical villain. For example, in the final episode of the television series Friday the 13th: The Series, Micki, the female protagonist, travels back in time and ends up being imprisoned and tortured by Sade. Similarly, in the horror film Waxwork, Sade is among the film's wax villains to come alive.


Literary criticism[edit]

The Marquis de Sade viewed Gothic fiction as a genre that relied heavily on magic and phantasmagoria. In his literary criticism Sade sought to prevent his fiction from being labeled "Gothic" by emphasizing Gothic's supernatural aspects as the fundamental difference from themes in his own work. But while he sought this separation he believed the Gothic played a necessary role in society and discussed its roots and its uses. He wrote that the Gothic novel was a perfectly natural, predictable consequence of the revolutionary sentiments in Europe. He theorized that the adversity of the period had rightfully caused Gothic writers to "look to hell for help in composing their alluring novels." Sade held the work of writers Matthew Lewis and Ann Radcliffe high above other Gothic authors, praising the brilliant imagination of Radcliffe and pointing to Lewis' The Monk as without question the genre’s best achievement. Sade nevertheless believed that the genre was at odds with itself, arguing that the supernatural elements within Gothic fiction created an inescapable dilemma for both its author and its readers. He argued that an author in this genre was forced to choose between elaborate explanations of the supernatural or no explanation at all and that in either case the reader was unavoidably rendered incredulous. Despite his celebration of The Monk, Sade believed that there was not a single Gothic novel that had been able to overcome these problems, and that a Gothic novel that did would be universally regarded for its excellence in fiction.[44]

Many assume that Sade's criticism of the Gothic novel is a reflection of his frustration with sweeping interpretations of works like Justine. Within his objections to the lack of verisimilitude in the Gothic may have been an attempt to present his own work as the better representation of the whole nature of man. Since Sade professed that the ultimate goal of an author should be to deliver an accurate portrayal of man, it is believed that Sade's attempts to separate himself from the Gothic novel highlights this conviction. For Sade, his work was best suited for the accomplishment of this goal in part because he was not chained down by the supernatural silliness that dominated late 18th-century fiction.[45] Moreover, it is believed that Sade praised The Monk (which displays Ambrosio’s sacrifice of his humanity to his unrelenting sexual appetite) as the best Gothic novel chiefly because its themes were the closest to those within his own work.[46]

Libertine novels[edit]

Sade's fiction has been tagged under many different titles, including pornography, Gothic, and baroque. Sade’s most famous books are often classified not as Gothic but as libertine novels, and include the novels Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue; Juliette; The 120 Days of Sodom; and Philosophy in the Bedroom. These works challenge traditional perceptions of sexuality, religion, law, age, and gender. His opinions on sexual violence, sadism, and pedophilia stunned even those contemporaries of Sade who were quite familiar with the dark themes of the Gothic novel during its popularity in the late 18th century. Suffering is the primary rule, as in these novels one must often decide between sympathizing with the torturer or the victim. While these works focus on the dark side of human nature, the magic and phantasmagoria that dominates the Gothic is noticeably absent and is the primary reason these works are not considered to fit the genre.[47]

Through the unreleased passions of his libertines, Sade wished to shake the world at its core. With 120 Days, for example, Sade wished to present "the most impure tale that has ever been written since the world exists."[48] Despite his literary attempts at evil, his characters and stories often fell into repetition of sexual acts and philosophical justifications. Simone de Beauvoir and Georges Bataille have argued that the repetitive form of his libertine novels, though hindering the artfulness of his prose, ultimately strengthened his individualist arguments.[49][50]

Short fiction[edit]

Subtitled "Heroic and Tragic Tales", Sade combines romance and horror, employing several Gothic tropes for dramatic purposes. There is blood, banditti, corpses, and of course insatiable lust. Compared to works like Justine, here Sade is relatively tame, as overt eroticism and torture is subtracted for a more psychological approach. It is the impact of sadism instead of acts of sadism itself that emerge in this work, unlike the aggressive and rapacious approach in his libertine works.[46] The modern volume entitled Gothic Tales collects a variety of other short works of fiction intended to be included in Sade's Contes et Fabliaux d'un Troubadour Provencal du XVIII Siecle.

An example is "Eugénie de Franval", a tale of incest and retribution. In its portrayal of conventional moralities it is something of a departure from the erotic cruelties and moral ironies that dominate his libertine works. It opens with a domesticated approach:

"To enlighten mankind and improve its morals is the only lesson which we offer in this story. In reading it, may the world discover how great is the peril which follows the footsteps of those who will stop at nothing to satisfy their desires."

Descriptions in Justine seem to anticipate Radcliffe's scenery in The Mysteries of Udolpho and the vaults in The Italian, but, unlike these stories, there is no escape for Sade's virtuous heroine, Justine. Unlike the milder Gothic fiction of Radcliffe, Sade's protagonist is brutalized throughout and dies tragically. To have a character like Justine, who is stripped without ceremony and bound to a wheel for fondling and thrashing, would be unthinkable in the domestic Gothic fiction written for the bourgeoisie. Sade even contrives a kind of affection between Justine and her tormentors, suggesting shades of masochism in his heroine.[51]

Sadism in the Gothic novel[edit]

Despite the strong adverse reaction to Sade's work and Sade's own disassociation from the Gothic novel, the similarities between the fiction of sadism and the Gothic novel were much closer than many of its readers or providers even realized. After the controversy surrounding Matthew Lewis' The Monk, Minerva Press released The New Monk as a supposed indictment of a wholly immoral book. It features the sadistic Mrs. Rod, whose boarding school for young women becomes a torture chamber equipped with its own "flogging-room". Ironically, The New Monk wound up increasing the level of cruelty, but as a parody of the genre, it illuminates the link between sadism and the Gothic novel.[51]

In popular culture[edit]


Further information: Marquis de Sade bibliography

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcdefghiPerrottet, Tony (February 2015). "Who Was the Marquis de Sade?". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  2. ^ abcPhillips, John, 2005, The Marquis De Sade: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280469-3.
  3. ^ abc"The Eponymous Sadist". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2016-04-26. 
  4. ^ abcd"Biography.com". 
  5. ^ abcdHayman, Ronald. Marquis de Sade: The Genius of Passion. 
  6. ^Love, Brenda (2002). The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. UK: Abacus. p. 145. ISBN 0-349-11535-4. 
  7. ^Vie du Marquis de Sade by Gilbert Lêly, 1961
  8. ^du Plessix Gray, Francine At Home With The Marquis de Sade: A Life, Simon and Schuster 1998, p420
  9. ^du Plessix Gray, Francine At Home With The Marquis de Sade: A Life, Simon and Schuster 1998, p418
  10. ^Marianne2: Quand le marquis de Sade entre dans l'ère du marketing by Jean-Pierre de Lucovich, Monday 30 July 2001. http://m.marianne2.fr/index.php?action=article&numero=139612[permanent dead link]
  11. ^
Sade's father, Jean-Baptiste François Joseph de Sade
Sade's mother, Marie Eléonore de Maillé de Carman
The first page of Sade's Justine, one of the works for which he was imprisoned
Depiction of the Marquis de Sade by H. Biberstein in L'Œuvre du marquis de Sade, Guillaume Apollinaire (Edit.), Bibliothèque des Curieux, Paris, 1912

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