Sade against God
Sade against the absolute monarchy
Sade against the death penalty
Sade against tyranny
Sade for sovereign Man
Here and there on the Minitel and the Internet, we see quotes from the
Marquis de Sade given out of their literary context. I find this disordered
practice pernicious and highly dangerous. When you quote Sade without
explaining his philosophy, especially in reference to our multiple sexuality,
the resulting confusion becomes a weapon that our enemies will eagerly
use against us.
Because sadism is nothing other than a crime allowed by
the law (e.g. the tyrant, the nazi). The adjective "sadistic"
does not therefore apply to Sade, or to our games.
Sade is above all a great philosopher. Sade's thought
is subversive and revolutionary, even today. So what can we say about
a period when the people obeyed an absolute monarchy with religion,
with the church as its theatre and the brainwashing of the sermon as
its message ? Our society has done its worst to Sade in its attempts
to classify him. He was filed with the worst criminals. Psychoanalysis
made a baby of him: an anal sadist or an oral sadist. "The total
baby", says Philippe Sollers: "Was Sade a hero or a monster
? Not even that. Crafty psychoanalysis made him a child. That operation
warrants our attention. A child doesn't have to be a mother-father.
The problem of its name or its sex doesn't arise. Consequently, it doesn't
have one, or hardly at all, the poor little thing is unaware, not being
able to find pleasure through the proper channels. Luckily. Sade must
therefore be an infant (anal sadist, oral sadist). He is even divine..."Philippe
Sollers, revue Obliques
Sade was subject to what we call passive and active algolagnia,
i.e. pleasure in pain given or received.
Algolagnia without Masochism = Pain without preparation of the mind
(without dreams, in passive algolagnia the dominated participant has
no scenario, and is a sort of victim of "destiny").
Masochism without algolagnia = Theatre of the mind without pain. These
definitions are concise and are worth further explanation (see bibliography
at end of article).
Sade was born in 1740, and in 1750 entered the Jesuit
college of Harcourt, renowned for its harsh corporal punishment. At
the time, this practice bothered no-one. Violence existed in sexuality
just as it exists today in Asian countries which prostitute children.
Sade was a libertine, on an unending quest for sexual adventures. In
1763, he was imprisoned for the first time (two weeks) in the Vincennes
dungeon, for violent acts perpetrated in a brothel. His second spell
in jail occurred in 1768 for the Keller case, the circumstances of which
are unclear. Was Rose Keller tempted by some kind of blackmail ? Was
she paid by Sade's in-laws ? Was Rose Keller really a victim ? Whatever
the case, it was only a fairly harsh whipping session. In 1772, a prostitute
accused Sade of poisoning her with aphrodisiacs. He was found not guilty
by the Aix court, but remained in prison. Sade spend enormous amounts
and risked the ruin of his mother-in-law, the President de Montreuil.
At her behest, he was again arrested in 1777. At the time, public rumour
accused him of a number of crimes, without evidence. Then his anti-theism
isolated him definitively. After his release in 1790, he spoke in public
often. Considered a great revolutionary, he was made President of the
Piques section. Disappointed by the cruelty of the revolution, he decided
to act on his own accord: "Three years later, Commandant Ramand,
an officer of the Army of the Somme appeared before Sade - "So
you helped emigrants get away?" asked Sade. "I did" -
"You know that means death" -"I do, said the brave commandant"
- "Here", said the Marquis, "take three hundred pounds
and these papers. Clear off." Later, in a letter to Gaufrudy (taken
from Jean Paulhan's "La Douteuse Justine"), Sade wrote: "They
wanted me to commit acts of barbarity. I never would." In 1794,
Sade almost went to the guillotine because of his great compassion for
Arrested in 1800 for writing Justine and Juliette, Sade
was interned in Charenton psychiatric hospital, where he was to remain
until his death in 1814.
Sade spent thirty years behind bars for a whipping session,
albeit a possibly violent and non-consenting one. The Marquis de Sade
was a well-protected nobleman, and the complaints came from beggar women
and prostitutes. It therefore seems unimaginable that their accusations
against a Marquis could be taken into consideration in the late eighteenth
century. Very well...
Sade's practices were nothing to do with what is described
in his work. In his day-to-day relationships, he was often extremely
general and respectful of others.
He is not interested in sadistic behaviour as he describes
it. He looks at the world and condemns it as a world of cruelty. From
the depths of his prison, he hallucinates, and sublimates his algolagnic
personality through characters on paper.
In Justine, Sade masterfully shows that virtue is useless
as "Nature is evil, it contains death"; a recurrent notion
in Sade's work. Justine is not a masochist, she is not in control of
what she goes through, and doesn't train our torturer as Masoch does.
As paradoxical as it may seem, Justine, the victim of the pseudo-masochism
of "destiny", takes pleasure in her pain. She enjoys describing
the ill treatment she is given. But we should not forget that she is
Sade condemns the world's tyranny in all its forms: "the
jails of the revolution were worth any number of Bastilles". While
imprisoned, Sade finds a new meaning to life. His literary work would
not have come into being without that experience. Sublimating sex through
writing is a way of surviving through the continuation of pleasure.
"Nothing is more beautiful, nothing is greater than sex, without
sex there is no salvation" - sex in the mystical sense of the term
(letter to his wife, June 25th, 1783). There is no survival without
sex, without the discourse that enables Sade to escape, to free his
soul and body in the dimension of pleasure... In prison, brimming over
with fantasies, Sade continues to live his life as if he were creating
a work of art, the light in the depths of the prison hell, the light
against the forms of organised death. In a society where the soul is
enclosed in a prison of stone, the only escape is the free assertion
of the singularity of our desires. This assertion and emancipation allow
us to make all the virtual break-outs that the world of fantasy offers
us in all its forms. Sade is bitterly opposed to the repression of desire
at the heart of our Western culture.
Sade points to his enemy: the normalised man, who hypocritically
seeks refuge in a sort of neurosis that he calls "morals",
"religion" or "duty". Sade's reasoning in showing
that system is flawless. Sade draws his work from the depths of our
life and death impulses,
because he has understood the secret struggle within each one of us.
Sade, a feminist before the movement existed, conceives
that a woman need not belong to a single man. Sade on behalf of feminine
" A free being can never be owned; it is as unfair
to own a woman exclusively as it is to own slaves; (...)ownership can
only be exercised on a building or an animal; never on an individual
who is like us..."
" We owe compensation to the women that we have so
cruelly subjugated (...). I therefore say that women, having been given
leanings that are far more violent than ours for sensual pleasure, may
give in to them as often as they wish, totally free of any bonds of
marriage, of all the false prejudices of decency, totally returned to
their natural state; I want the law to allow them to give themselves
to as many men as they see fit; I want them to be entitled, like men,
to the of pleasure of all the sexes and of all parts of their bodies;"
Sade suggests brothels for women's pleasure: "There
will therefore be houses for women's licentiousness, under government
protection like those intended for men; there, women will be provided
with all the individuals of either sex that they may desire, and the
more they frequent such houses, the greater their personal reputations
Sade for adultery: "If anything is absurd in this
world, the eternity of matrimonial bonds are."
In turn, Sade discusses, prostitution, homosexuality,
Sade against the death penalty: "Should murder be
punished by murder? Surely not. Let us not impose on the murderer any
penalties other than those that he may endure through the vengeance
of the victim's friends or family. I grant you your pardon, said Louis
XV to Charolais who had killed a man for entertainment, but I also grant
it to he who kills you. All the foundations of the law against murderers
are in this sublime phrase."
Sade against the monarchy, then against the Supreme Being.
Sade, sickened by the revolution, man's cruelty, the guillotine:
"Apart from that of the king, the executions that
had the most success were those of the queen, the Girondins and Madame
du Barry. For her, who did not want to die, it seemed for a moment as
if she would weaken the people. Sanson tells of how he did nor recognise
the operators. He himself felt softened and ready to weep before the
collapse of the poor women, her face changing from violet to white and
back again, her sack-like passivity, falling from side to side in the
cart, her moans, her begging. He advised her to pray, but all she could
so was repeat "Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu!". Everyone is repeating
what she said as she saw the guillotine: "Just a moment longer,
Messieurs the executioners, just a moment longer, please!" She
struggled, tried to bite (...), she was still screaming, they must have
heard her across the river. She was frightening to look at." (Extracts
from the letter "Sade contre l'Etre Suprême" edited
by Philippe Sollers, published by Quai Voltaire). (Extracts from the
letter "Sade contre l'Etre Suprême" edited by Philippe
Sollers, published by Quai Voltaire).
Sade against the law: "If, then, the law hinders
a citizen more than it serves him, if it makes
him ten, twelve, fifteen times more unhappy that it defend or protects
him, it is therefore not only abusive, pointless and dangerous, but
tyrannical and despicable."
Sade and Nature: Sade accuses Nature of being responsible
for crimes: "Let us suppose an egg placed on a billiard table,
and a blind man rolls two balls: one goes past the egg, the other breaks
it; is it the fault of the blind man who threw the ball that smashed
the egg? The blind man is nature, man is the ball, the broken egg is
the crime committed." For Sade, this a doctrinal position: "The
Earth is covered in gallows, wrapped in chains, and drenched in blood
Sade refuses to believe in God. Finally, Sade against
"The idea of God is the only wrong for which I cannot
forgive Man." SADE SADE
"We shall be infinitely more happy than the idiot
who, for fear of the punishments in another life, strictly forbids himself
in this one anything that may give him pleasure or delight; for it is
infinitely more essential to be happy in this life, of which we are
certain, than to forgo the certain happiness that is offered to us,
in the hope of obtaining an imaginary happiness of which we do not and
cannot have the faintest idea."
"What is a Jewish leper who, born of a whore and
a soldier in the sickliest corner of the world, dares to pass himself
off as the voice of he who made the world!"
"There is a God: some hand must have created everything
I see, but only for evil, it is only happy in evil, evil is its essence...
The God that shaped this sad world is a vindictive being, and very barbarous,
very wicked, very unfair, very cruel... the despicable elements of the
evil man are thus absorbed into the centre of wickedness that is God,
to return and animate others in turn, who will be born all the more
corrupt as they will be the fruit of corruption." A sacrilege by
the blasphemous condemnation of a depraved God. The scandal is at its
height and Sade is definitively isolated. A sacrilege by the blasphemous
condemnation of a depraved God. The scandal is at its height and Sade
is definitively isolated.
Was it the taste for licentiousness that led a Marquis,
even a Divine one, to the dungeons of the Bastille, or the expression
of universal truths that are utterly taboo ? Existence versus Non-Existence.
Life versus death, a distinction where Man exercises his power in allegorical
duality. Master and slave. A rite that calls for belief, representation,
order. But I'll ask the question again. Was it his passion for a form
of sexual practice that has brought men together for centuries, or a
form of intuitive awareness of a mystery that escapes us ? Riches as
well as weakness ? A need to get closer, to understand. Don't you think
that the notion of power, however it is manifested, is above all the
way to escape the only insoluble problem, a problem that does not belong
to us... Death
7 Philippe Sollers, revue Obliques
de la Pléiade"
"Dialogue entre un prêtre et un moribond",
"Les cent vingt journées de Sodome
L'école du libertinage"
"Aline et Valcour ou Le roman du libertinage".
introduction Michel Delon et Jean Deprun.
"Robert Laffont" Sade Vivant
Biographie par Jean-Jacques Pauvert en trois volumes
LELY Gilbert: Vie du marquis de Sade Mercure de France 1989
(1952 and 1957). Gilbert Lely (1904 - 1985)
Une innocence sauvage (1740 - 1777)
Robert Laffont 1986
Donatien François de Sade
"Tout ce qu'on peut concevoir dans ce genre-là..."
1777 - 1793
BLANCHOT Maurice : Sade et Restif de la Bretonne
Donatien François de
Editions Complexe La Raison de Sade,
L'insurrection, la folie d'écrire, et
Restif de la Bretonne.
LE BRUN Annie : Soudain un bloc d'abîme, Sade J.J. Pauvert chez
LE BRUN Annie : Sade, aller et détours Plon 1989
LELY Gilbert : Sade Collection Idées 1967
PAULHAN Jean : Donatien François De Sade
Le Marquis de Sade et sa complice
Editions Complexe 1987
introduction Bernard Noël,
On de Sade's philosophy and language:
DE BEAUVOIR Simone : Faut-il brûler Sade?
Collection Idées 1955
BARTHES Roland : Sade Fourier Loyola
LE BRUN Annie
Les châteaux de la subversion Folio Essais 1982
DIDIER Béatrice Sade Denoël/Gonthier 1976
Présentation de Sacher Masoch Gilles Deleuze
Oblique Sade N°12-13