The Marquis de Sade: A New Biography

Bestseller Books The Marquis de Sade A New Biography release Donatien Alphonse Francois Marquis de Sade remains a man whose name is instantly recognized but whose life is obscure Born clo

Bestseller Books The Marquis de Sade: A New Biography release Donatien Alphonse Francois, Marquis de Sade 1740 1814, remains a man whose name is instantly recognized but whose life is obscure Born close to royalty in the age of aristocratic decadence, he precipitated sexual scandals in the grand manner Alleged poisoning and unnatural practices with a group of girls in Marseilles earned him a death sentence While hunted by the lawDonatien Alphonse Francois, Marquis de Sade 1740 1814, remains a man whose name is instantly recognized but whose life is obscure Born close to royalty in the age of aristocratic decadence, he precipitated sexual scandals in the grand manner Alleged poisoning and unnatural practices with a group of girls in Marseilles earned him a death sentence While hunted by the law he contrived a winter of pleasures that led to further accusations of sexual crimes.Imprisoned on six separate occasions, De Sade spent twenty seven years under detention, escaping the guillotine while within sight of it and spending his last years in the dubious comfort of the asylum of Charenton For a brief period after the revolution De Sade also became a judge, opposed the death penalty, and saved some of his sworn enemies from prison or execution He was loved to the end by women who knew the worst of him, and he was fearless in his defiance of injustice.What manner of paradox was this man Was he a monster or was he a man of his time, driven to excess and persecuted by his contemporaries De Sade, an aristocrat, lived through the waning days of Louis XVI, the Revolution, the Terror and the early years of Napoleon s reign His literary output fills a library shelf, and even now a English language edition of his complete writings is in the planning stages.In this illuminating and dramatic biography, Donald Thomas puts De Sade in perspective, unraveling his complex life and thought against the turbulent background of revolutionary France and considers his legacy in the context of our own time What manner of man could have written Juliet, Justine and 120 Days of Sodom This book offers a key.. Popular Books The Marquis de Sade: A New Biography Roll up my friends to the show that never ends, I wish it did but it doesn't, I call it the Fifty Shades of Sade or maybe that should be the Sixty Shards of Sade, it depends on your pronounciation, but you may call it the Panoptikon of Pain, or the Theatre of Human Cruelty (is there any other kind, my kindly friends?); and here is your host, the debonair deflowerer of demoiselles, the nimble noble of nonce, the long-haired whippie, the mincing marquis of manifold misery, that rakish rapscallion of ravishment, your own, your very own Donatien-Alphonse-Francois de Sade, 1740 – 1814.Aristocrat SadeDe Sade was the eldest son of one of the top aristocratic families. They palled around with the King and ate flamingos. But they didn’t have much ready cash. So De Sade was fixed up with a sensible marriage to a filthy rich commoner, Renee-Pelagie de Launay. She did not know what she was getting into. Neither did the rest of the bourgeois family. What followed would make a ridiculous, completely unbelievable soap opera. For the de Launays it was the all time worst marriage decision possible. "Saturday night was for wives, but Friday night at the Copa was always for the girlfriends” (Goodfellas , 1990) Getting a handle on the morality of the men of the aristocratic class in pre-revolutionary France is not easy. For example -From A Tale of Two Cities - a French aristocrat hurtles through a village and his coach runs over and kills a child. The coach stops and the aristocrat is not pleased."It is extraordinary to me," said he, "that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is for ever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done my horses. See! Give him that." He threw out a gold coin for the valet to pick up.These men were liable to conduct very complex lives, how they organised them I do not know, this was all way before Filofax even. They had their dynastic marriage, which might or might not have involved affection or personal pleasantness. They had their mistresses. But if they were gay blades they also had their regular “petites maisons” where they took their girls hired for the evening. Well, since they didn’t even have television or football, they had to do something. De Sade was always perfectly pleasant to his wife and mistresses, but he liked to let loose with his prostitutes. This got him into three scandals and into prison. Scandal No 1 was the Rose Keller affair. A young girl presents herself to a neighbour, she is covered in welts. She explains what happened. She had no idea he was going to do that. He also wanted to do other unnatural acts but she refused. Sodomy was a capital crime in France at this point, and sodomy was always on de Sade’s mind. Sade is arrested.Donald Thomas :When set beside the most outrageous or brutal episodes of the petites maisons, Sade’s infliction of several strokes with a whip on Rose Keller seems almost unremarkable. Even at court, Madame du Barry would have a girl whipped if it took her fancy.De Sade says the whole thing was consensual and the girl was well paid. Well, he would, wouldn’t he. She says she never got a penny. De Sade’s ever-loving wife steps in, cools down the witness, discreetly hands round a few banknotes, the charges are dropped. At the trial, De Sade gets a small fine. But then…He was marched off to jail for 5 months. This was because his in-laws wanted to teach the 28 year old a lesson. So they had a word with the King and he issued a lettre de cachet. This was a letter which said “throw this sorry mope in jail and keep him there”. If you got one of those you had no idea how long you’d be in for. You’d be in until your family jiggled the King’s elbow. It would be until they forgot why they’d tossed you in jail to begin with. Scandal No 2 was the Marseilles affair. After he was released, a couple of years went by and what do you know. My friend Yvonne always used to say “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior” and she was right. So scandal 2 was the same as scandal 1 but here there were two girls and they also claimed to have been deliberately poisoned by the Marquis. There was a trial and De Sade and his valet were both sentenced to death. They were clapped in jail. There followed a daring prison break and a fleeing into the nearby country of Savoy. And the law being the ramshackle affair it was, when De Sade eventually trickled back to France and holed up in one of his chateaus, it was too much of an expensive bother for the authorities to go along and arrest him again. So his mother in law, who, understandably, hated his guts, privately funded an arrest party (think Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven) but De Sade gave ‘em the slip. You’d think De Sade would now keep a low profile but he couldn’t keep his mitts off the young girls & so another scandal erupted. More complaints about ye olde whipping and sodomy. The investigations of these complaints make the London Metropolitan Police Force look like Sherlock Holmes. To say the French authorities were incompetent gives incompetence a bad name. Mishandling of evidence, witnesses, corruption, no medical standards, automatic total belief in witnesses by one party and total disbelief by the other party, all make it hard to know what De Sade did or did not. But the phrase there’s no smoke without fire does tend to spring to mind somewhat.Pity the poor mother in law. She was at once trying to get her TWO daughters away from De Sade (he had his sister in law living with him, he was groping her as well), damp down the scandal to prevent it besmirching the family name, AND get De Sade put away for a long time. Donald Thomas :Even De Sade appeared to realise that his time was running out. As he wrote glumly during that summer of 1775 : “If anyone so much as whips a cat in this province, they all say ‘It’s Monsieur de Sade who did it.’”Whips a cat?? That’s disgusting! See what a monster this guy was? (My cat Hatter is lying beside me as I type and I do believe he flinched just then.)So De Sade scarpered to Italy this time, where he rolled around for a year, and came at length to Florence, which disgusted him:As a city of sexual vice he had as yet seen nowhere to rival this. The streets would have been incomplete darkness at night had it not been for plentiful illumination from the windows of the brothels. These enabled pedestrians to avoid literal pitfalls while luring them into those of the moral kind.Once again, De Sade crept back to one of his French chateaus thinking the heat had cooled down, which it had. Once again, he got in trouble about a girl. This time the father came round to his chateau, pulled out a pistol, and shot at him. Missed. Ran off. Came back, took some more shots. So then – you may not believe this – De Sade called the cops on the guy. It seemed a bizarre convolution of the law for a man who was wanted on a capital charge to bring a prosecution against another. But though the rest of France might be beyond his control, De Sade was still lord of the village.Getting cocky, De Sade goes to Paris to sort out his finances and check in with his mother, who'd died some time back, but he didn't know that, and that’s when the mother in law strikes – she gets him picked up on the original lettre de cachet and WHAM !14 years before he sees daylight.He was 36.Prisoner De SadeConditions were grim, he was kept in solitary. He wept and raged. The he became a writer. Day by day in the letters [to his wife and others] it seemed that he was redefining his own view of himself. He was not to be the weeping petitioner but the heroic and unbroken champion of his own cause. There were those who expected him to go mad, as other men did after years of such captivity. But he was not to go mad. On the contrary he was to shock the minds of his bourgeois readers by a terrifying intellectual clarity.In 1784 he was transferred to the Bastille and there he wrote The 120 Days of Sodom. He knew that one was a bit dodgy so unlike the others, he wrote it on a long roll which he stashed in a secret hole in the cell wall. He was transferred to a lunatic asylum just as the Revolution kicked off and the Bastille was stormed and looted. But no one found this 39 foot long manuscript roll. It wasn’t discovered until after he was dead. It became infamous, of course, and people went to jail for publishing it, and now, dear Goodreaders, look here:France's National Library has launched a £4 million bid to return the Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom – his seminal and most depraved work – to his homeland decades after it was smuggled out of the country. -The Telegraph, 11:17AM GMT 04 Feb 2013 In Charenton, the asylum, he remarked that the only change made to his circumstances by the Revolution was that the attendants beat and robbed him with less deference. But the Revolution finally freed him, in April 1790, by abolishing the dreadful lettres de cachetCitizen SadeHe was nearly 50. There followed a whole other wild carousel of ups and downs, snakes and ladders, as this disgraced nobleman tried to make it in the new egalitarian universe. At one point he became a revolutionary judge, and, in a ridiculous circumstance worthy of a picaresque 18th century novel, who should come into his court but the family of his in-laws. The very ones who had been hounding him all his life. They pleaded for clemency – and he granted it. “Such is the revenge I take upon them he wrote. After four years of freedom and terrible poverty, he was arrested again, not for sex crimes but for being a nobleman who was only pretending to support the revolution. He was sentenced to death, again, and escaped, again, purely because of the incompetence of the jailers. He was freed again, this time for 6 years, and he wrote the vast novels Justine and Juliette, and published them as a two-fer. Together they were twice as long as War and Peace. And much, much dirtier. But then – you saw this coming didn’t you – they found out he was the author and they threw him back in the loony bin. And there he stayed for the rest of his natural, which was 1814, and he died peacefully at the great age of 74, this vile pervert, this nihilist, this bringer of the bad news about the human condition. This bookA long and hectic review which doesn’t even touch upon the work of De Sade – I think that’s best left to another review entirely. This biography is excellent gob-smacking page-turning stuff, very soberly written, I completely enjoyed it as the tale of De Sade’s life. But when Donald Thomas describes De Sade’s ideas and writing – what he was actually all about – we wander into a paradoxical ambiguous fog. He, it seems, can be claimed as a radical forbear by just about anyone – socialists, Freudians, nihilists, atheists, even feminists! (Angela Carter, The Sadean Woman), not to mention humble pornographers. His books are terminally vicious satires – moral tales, if you will, and many will. He holds the mirror up to our darkest fantasies. He says – there is no good, there are no human rights, the weak will always get abused, that’s what they’re for! Over and over he says this – was he being serious? Oh, and was he a terrible misogynist? It might seem so, but I haven’t read Juliette or the Prosperities of Vice. I understand though that Juliette only got whipped when she wanted to and mostly she was dishing it out. He’s the dancing laughing gibbering ringmaster of deliberate cruelty and a most bizarre, complex and seething case history.Also, he had beautiful handwriting :

  1. aka Francis SelwynDonald Serrell Thomas is an English author of primarily Victorian era historical, crime and detective fiction, as well as books on factual crime and criminals, in particular several academic books on the history of crime in London He has written a number of biographies, two volumes of poetry, and has also edited volumes of poetry by John Dryden and the Pre Raphaelites.

191 Reply to “The Marquis de Sade: A New Biography”

  1. Roll up my friends to the show that never ends, I wish it did but it doesn t, I call it the Fifty Shades of Sade or maybe that should be the Sixty Shards of Sade, it depends on your pronounciation, but you may call it the Panoptikon of Pain, or the Theatre of Human Cruelty is there any other kind, my kindly friends and here is your host, the debonair deflowerer of demoiselles, the nimble noble of nonce, the long haired whippie, the mincing marquis of manifold misery, that rakish rapscallion of r [...]


  2. The name Donald Thomas may be familiar with Sherlock Holmes fans, since Thomas wrote so many Holmes pastiches and mysteries in general However, Thomas is much better at writing non fiction than fiction sorry, Mr Thomas One of his quirkiest non fiction books is this in depth and deeply weird biography of the deeply weird Marquis de Sade.Yes the guy who inspired the word sadism The guy who should never be a dentist in that song Dentist from Little Shop of Horrors Who wants their teeth done by the [...]


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