The Marquis de Sade is a figure in front of whom there is a host of legends, most of them false or without foundation. Basically his great “sin” was thinking about sex and writing about sex, in a way that defied the taboos and hypocrisies of his time.
If what he had put in his writing was absurd, or “crazy” as they called it, it would have simply been ignored. The harsh and even violent reactions against him lead one to think that, quite to the contrary, his work was not so far-fetched, but was about what no one wanted to talk about.
” The body is the temple where nature asks to be venerated .”
-Marquis de Sade-
The name of the Marquis de Sade went down in history because it became the way to name a sexual perversion. Sadism is defined as the obtaining of sexual pleasure, through acts of cruelty against another person. This is not exactly what is in the works of the famous marquis, but it was established that way by history.
The childhood and youth of the Marquis de Sade
The name of the Marquis de Sade was Donatien Alphonse François de Sade. He was born in Paris on June 2, 1740. He came from a noble family, related to the Bourbon dynasty. Due to his father’s work as a diplomat, from the age of 4 he was in charge of his grandmother and his paternal aunts.
Later, one of his uncles, Jacques François Paul Aldonce de Sade, a recognized libertine, took him with him to take care of his education. Jacques Francois Amblet was assigned as a tutor, who accompanied him for much of his life.
When the famous Marquis de Sade was just 16 years old, he participated in one of the battles of the Seven Years’ War. His outstanding performance led him to become a captain in the Burgundy cavalry. He then returned to Paris and was forced to marry Renèe- Pélagie Cordier de Launay de Montreuil, despite the fact that he was in love with another young woman. Shortly after the marriage the scandals began.
The black legend of the Marquis de Sade
Shortly after their marriage, the Marquis de Sade formally began his career as a writer. In 1763 he was arrested for 15 days, apparently for having written a highly sexual content. Also at that time he had several mistresses and was frequently surrounded by prostitutes.
Two years later, the famous Arcueil scandal took place. According to the prostitute Rose Keller, the Marquis de Sade had whipped and tortured her. The event had many repercussions and the popular legend was adding fictitious details, to the point that it was not really known what happened. Sade spent seven months in prison for it.
Then the “Marseille case” took place. Sade was accused of sodomy and of trying to poison prostitutes. Actually, he had given them an aphrodisiac, in the middle of an orgy. Although no one died, he was still charged with attempted murder, was imprisoned and sentenced to death. He lasted 13 years in confinement, first in the Vincennes prison and then in La Bastille. This affected his health.
A cruel ending
With the triumph of the French Revolution, the Marquis de Sade was first sent to an asylum and then released. He was released from prison at 51 years of age and quite physically abused. However, at the time of the terror, Robespierre again sentenced him to death and was miraculously saved from the guillotine. Upon leaving prison, he was practically destitute.
His works aroused enormous apprehension, since in them he described rape, paraphilias and all kinds of perversions. Napoleon himself threw the novel Justine into the stake and called it “the most abominable book ever produced.” Also at that time, many of the Marquis de Sade’s writings were destroyed, so much of his work was lost.
In 1801, the Napoleonic regime accused him of “wanton insanity” and confined him to a madhouse. His family burned what was left of his work when the Marquis de Sade died in 1814.
Several generations of writers, especially those of the surrealist current, rescued Sade’s work and gave it great value. To this day, opinions on his literary work are not unanimous. While Breton called him “The Divine Marquis,” Bataille pointed out that his work was an apology for crime.
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