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Justine The Misfortunes of Virtue (1791) - Marquis De Sade

Related: 1790s - Marquis de Sade - Pamela (novel) - virtue

The Misfortunes of Virtue (1791) - Marquis De Sade [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Marquis de Sade who was a well-read man wrote Justine, the misfortunes of virtue as a commentary on Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded.

The novel purports to show, albeit in a hideously extreme way, an inversion of poetic justice: how those who live a life of vice prosper, whilst the virtuous suffer. [Aug 2006]


The misfortunes of virtue (original French-language title Les Infortunes de la virtu) was an early work by the Marquis de Sade, written in two weeks on 8 July 1787.

de Sade was recognized as a founding father by the Surrealists, and holds a prominent place in the history of modernism and post-modernism. This selection of his early writings reveals the full range of his sobering moods and considerable talents.--Synopsis via Amazon.com

The name of the Marquis de Sade is synonymous with the blackest corners of the human soul, a byword for all that is most foul in human conduct. In his bleak, claustrophobic universe, there is no God, no human affection, and no hope. This selection of his early writings, some making their first appearance in English in this new translation by David Coward, reveals the full range of Sade's sobering moods and considerable talents. This is a fully annotated edition including an introduction, a biographical study, and a history of the censorship of these writings. --Amazon.com


The plot concerns Justine, a young maiden who sets off, impecunious, to make her way in France. At every turn she is presented with vice and abuse, hidden under a virtuous mask that lures her. For example, she seeks refuge and confession in a monastery, but is forced to become a sex-slave to the monks, who subject her to countless orgies, rapes and other abuses.

These are, of course, described in true Sadean form. However, unlike some of his other works, the novel is not just a catalogue of sadism. Rather it purports to show, albeit in a hideously extreme way, how those who live a life of vice prosper, whilst the virtuous suffer. Nonetheless, Sade invites us to live virtuously in hope of heavenly reward.

A quotation from the last paragraph of the book:

May you...be persuaded that true happiness lies in virtue alone and that, though God allows goodness to be persecuted on earth, it is with no other end than to prepare us for a better reward in heaven.

The story has been adapted for film several times, most notably in a 1969 international co-production directed by Jesus Franco and starring Klaus Kinski as the Marquis. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_misfortunes_of_virtue [Jan 2005]

Publication and arrest

  • 1791: The anonymous publication of Justine.
  • 1801: The Marquis de Sade and his publisher were both arrested by the Minister of Police in 1801 for writing and publishing, and the "still more terrible work, Juliette."

    Justine (1969) - Jesus Franco

    German edition

    Justine (1969) - Jesus Franco [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Young, nubile, and virginal Justine (Romina Power, Tyrone Power's 18-year-old daughter) is cast out of a French orphanage and thrust into a depraved world of prostitution, predatory lesbians, a fugitive murderess (Mercedes McCambridge), bondage, branding, and one supremely sadistic monk (an outrageous performance by Jack Palance). It's a twisted tale of strange desires, perverse pleasures, and the ultimate corruption of innocence as told by the Marquis de Sade. One of the most lavish and bizarre erotic shockers ever made by the notorious Jess Franco, "Justine" is bursting with wanton nudity, sexual perversion, and an all-star cast including Akim Tamiroff (Touch of Evil), Maria Rohm (Venus in Furs), and Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu) as the Marquis de Sade. Originally released with over 30 minutes cut, this infamous film is presented here fully restored and completely uncensored for the first time! --amazon.com

    Cruel Passion (1977) - Chris Boger

    Cruel Passion (1977) - Chris Boger

    Yes, there was some really, really bad acting in this film, but it wasn't done by Koo Stark. She was beautiful, demure, and a pretty decent Justine. (It's often hard to judge an actor in a really bad movie.) i have never seen Stark elsewhere, and would need to do so before deciding if she were a hack. About the material itself, I have read some Sade, (although not "Justine") and it is some really vile stuff. Someone mentioned that the sex scenes were depressing and un-erotic. That describes Sade's stuff on a very mild day. He was a fanatical atheist, and took great delight in portraying sex as sacrilege, and all religion as hypocritical. --smatysia via http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075893 [Jan 2005]

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