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Marquis de Sade biographies

Related: Marquis de Sade - biography

A list of biographical works on Sade

Books On De Sade

  1. The Marquis de Sade: an essay by Simone de Beauvoir (1953) - Simone de Beauvoir [Amazon US]
    As Simone de Beauvoir noted in her controversial Marquis de Sade essay: "Pleasant sensations are too mild; it is when the flesh is torn and bleeding that it is revealed most dramatically as flesh."

    Faut-il brûler Sade? aka Must We Burn Sade? Simone de Beauvoir, in Les Temps Modernes, 1951-2. Reprinted in [93].

    Freud [...]

    However, this century has seen the emergence of scholars and critics who have been willing to passionately dissect and defend the value of Sade’s work, perhaps making the Marquis one of history’s only true criminals to be exonerated and celebrated on legitimate intellectual and philosophical grounds. In a 1951 essay, "Must We Burn Sade," Simone de Beauvoir identifies Sade as a forerunner of Freud with an intuitive grasp of the nature of the human heart:
      "It is remarkable, for example, that in 1795 Sade wrote: ‘Sexual pleasure is, I agree, a passion to which all others are subordinate but in which they all unite.’ Not only does Sade, in the first part of this text, anticipate what has been called the ‘pansexuality’ of Freud, but also he makes eroticism the mainspring of human behavior. In addition, he asserts…that sexuality is charged with a significance that goes beyond it. Libido is everywhere, and it is always far more than itself. Sade certainly anticipated this great truth. He knew that the ‘perversions’ that are vulgarly regarded as moral monstrosities or physiological defects actually envelop what would now be called an intentionality. He understood, too, that our tastes are motivated not by the intrinsic qualities of the object but by the latter’s relationship with the subject. In a passage in La Nouvelle Justine he tries to explain coprophilia. His reply is faltering, but clumsily using the notion of imagination, he points out that the truth of a thing lies not in what it is but in the meaning it has taken on for us in the course of our individual experience. Intuitions such as these allow us to hail Sade as a precursor of psychoanalysis." --Douglas B. Lynott in http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/famous/sade/index_1.html
    from http://www.crimelibrary.com/classics/marquis/7.htm

  2. At Home With the Marquis De Sade: A Life - Francine Du Plessix Gray [Amazon US]

    See Francine Du Plessix Gray

  3. The Marquis De Sade: A Life - Neil Schaeffer [Amazon US]
    His immortality may be of a scandalous variety, but the fascination still exerted by Donatien Alphonse François de Sade (1740-1814) is evidenced in this, the third biography of the man to appear in a scant six months. Francine du Plessix Gray (At Home with the Marquis de Sade) and Laurence Bongie (Sade: A Biographical Essay) take arguably more original approaches, but American academic Neil Schaeffer's thorough, carefully researched and argued book is more likely to appeal to the general reader who knows little of Sade beyond the perversion to which he gave his name. In fact, Schaeffer contends, the marquis was hardly a textbook sadist: he liked to be beaten at least as much as he enjoyed inflicting pain, which was a pastime he pursued primarily in his books' scatological fantasies. The author generally attempts to temper Sade's dreadful reputation, placing his escapades with prostitutes and menservants in the European tradition of aristocratic libertinism and pointing up the witty irony as well as the obscenities in works like The 120 Days of Sodom ("the most radical novel ever written"). It's not exactly a pretty picture, but Schaeffer makes a plausible case that the man imprisoned by both royal and revolutionary regimes posed more danger through his unfettered imaginings than through anything he actually did. --Wendy Smith for Amazon.com

  4. Sade: A Sudden Abyss - Annie Le Brun [Amazon US]
    The difficulty of coming to a view of Sade is that he represents several things of widely different value. (1) As a man who routinely victimized people less powerful than himself, he deserves contempt. (2) To the extent that he suffered as a result of what he wrote, he deserves sympathy. (3) As a litmus test for intellectual freedom, he continues to challenge us today. (4) Sade's Crimes of Love, which includes a brief preface considering the history and theory of the novel, shows him to be a student of fiction and a practitioner who, though perhaps not of the first rank, can write entertaining stories; in this mode, he deserves respect.

    Possibly taking for granted that the reader knows all about the first mode, and admiring him in the second and third, Annie Le Brun gives him passionate, perhaps excessive, praise in the fourth.

    Le Brun presents Sade as driven to search for the truth, however politically incorrect, about human motives and human relations. He goes the Enlightenment one better: not content with his contemporaries' unmasking of the deceptions of religion, he proceeds to unmask their backstops in economics, convention, public opinion, ideology, law, and government.

    In A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume declares with straightforward good humor that reason is the servant of the passions and can never be anything else. Sade plays out the implications of seeing this, and those of refusing to see it: everything that happens in the human world is driven by the personal desires (acknowledged or disguised) of the people involved, plus chance--but we are surrounded by constant efforts to wrap veils of hypocrisy around this fact.

    Sade is out to cut those veils away. He insists that we are a part of, not above, nature. He focuses on sex as the field of our most powerful, and most veiled, desires. Through literary means ranging from philosophical discourse to shock therapy, he wants to make us face the reality of the physical world (and the reality of our own wishes) and reject the high-sounding abstractions that issued, before Sade's eyes, in the free use of the guillotine. Le Brun notes that Sade opposed capital punishment, at considerable risk to his own head. (To suggest the kind of argument he might have made: when a government denies its citizens the right to kill but claims that right for itself, it is claiming to stand above the people--when in fact it is a creature of the people and its "moral authority" is only power, the combination of majority rule and force.)

    For Le Brun, Sade's mission is to free us to face the facts of spontaneous, individual human desire and its fate in the world of nature. This drive to clarity makes him a worthy member of a tradition that includes Machiavelli, La Rochefoucauld, Nietzsche, Freud, Rimbaud, and the surrealists. We might also add Stanley Milgram, whose book Obedience to Authority shows how fragile is the veneer of enlightened morality in the life of everyday people.

    Le Brun considers earlier critics of Sade, pointing out how they shy away from, or bury under "blind erudition," certain aspects of his work. She herself occasionally falls into obscurity, and the translation suffers a bit from lack of close proofreading. But these flaws are minor beside the surprises and insights that appear on nearly every page. The book makes a passionate, if not entirely convincing, case for Sade as one of the greatest French writers, one whose challenge those who want to live without veils must face. It gets five stars, not because it is necessarily right, but because it is the work of a writer for whom writing is life itself. --Richard Crowder for amazon.com

Must We Burn Sade? (1952) - Deepak Narang Sawhney

Must We Burn Sade? (1952) - Deepak Narang Sawhney [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

For the last two hundred years, the name of the Marquis de Sade has had a singular power to evoke graphic images of the torturous and often murderous practices that bear his name. Sade himself has been labeled a sadomasochistic pornographer, and his works of fiction are considered by some to be the basis for the ideas that led to the Nazi death camps. Must We Burn Sade? peels away the layers of this negative legacy. This intriguing collection of essays examines the literary, theatrical, political, social, and philosophical aspects of Sade's writing, demonstrating that Sade's most important work concentrates on the constant struggle in humanity between virtue and vice, which can only be resolved by the creative and destructive impulses of nature. Like no writer before him, Sade shows that desire exists within the matrix of good and evil. This collection reveals Sade's influences and motivations, providing an understanding of society's fear of him while at the same time acquitting him of the false accusations that have plagued his name and his writing for far too long. Sade's words demand that we rethink our relationship to history, that we challenge traditional notions of right and wrong, and that we see the world as it really is. These demands come full circle as the contributors to this volume force us to rethink Sade himself. --amazon.com

The Marquis De Sade: A New Biography (1992) - Donald Thomas

The Marquis De Sade: A New Biography (1992) - Donald Thomas [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Product Description:
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 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. --Amazon.com

See also: Notes on The Marquis De Sade: A New Biography (1992) - Donald Thomas

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