Marquis de Sade

Sade, Donatien Alphonse François, comte de

Donatien Alphonse François Sade, comte de (dônäsyăN´ älfôNs´ fräNswä´ kôNt də säd), 1740–1814, French writer and libertine. He is known as the marquis de Sade —the title he held before becoming count on his father's death (1767). Famous for his licentious prose narratives, he also wrote many essays, antireligious pamphlets, and plays. He fought in the Seven Years War, and after his marriage in 1763 he pursued a life of pleasure and was imprisoned for his scandalous conduct. Charged with numerous sexual offenses, he spent a total of 27 years of confinement in such institutions as the Bastille, the dungeon at Vincennes, and Charenton asylum. During this time he wrote such ribald classics as Justine; ou, Les Malheurs de la vertu (1791), La Philosophie dans le boudoir (1793), and Histoire de Juliette; ou, Les Prosperités du vice (6 vol., 1797).

Released for a time during the French Revolution, he succeeded in having some plays produced by the Comédie Française, and during his final confinement at Charenton he directed theatrical performances by the inmates. De Sade brought to light the controversial theory that since both sexual deviation and criminal acts exist in nature, they are therefore natural. This was in violent opposition to the spirit of his times but made him a precursor of modern psychological thought. The sexual aberration in which cruelty is inflicted in order to attain sexual release is termed sadism after him. Generally banned for obscenity, de Sade's works were almost all published in expurgated or unofficial editions. The complete works, edited by Gilbert Lély, appeared in 1966–68 (8 vol.).

See biographies by G. Lély (tr. 1961, repr. 1970), R. Hayman (1978), F. du P. Gray (1998), and N. Schaeffer (1998); essays by S. de Beauvoir (tr. 1953) and L. L. Bongie (1998); studies by G. Gorer (rev. ed. 1953, repr. 1963), N. Gear (1963), A. Le Brun (tr. 1989), and C. V. Michael (1986 and 1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Marquis de Sade: Selected full-text books and articles

The Marquis de Sade: An Essay, with Selections from His Writings By Simone de Beauvoir; Marquis de Sade Grove Press, 1953
The Misfortunes of Virtue and Other Early Tales By Marquis de Sade; David Coward Oxford University Press, 1999
Writing the Orgy: Power and Parody in Sade By Lucienne Frappier-Mazur; Gillian C. Gill University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996
The Marquis and the Chevalier By James Cleugh Andrew Melrose, 1951
Dangerous Truths & Criminal Passions: The Evolution of the French Novel, 1569-1791 By Thomas Dipiero Stanford University, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Justine and the Discourse of the (Other) Master"
The Sublime Crime: Fascination, Failure, and Form in Literature of the Enlightenment By Stephanie Barbé Hammer Southern Illinois University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Criminal Kin, Gendered Tragedy, Subversion of Inversion, and the Fear of the Feminine in Schiller's Robbers and Sade's Justine"
Circles of Censorship: Censorship and Its Metaphors in French History, Literature, and Theory By Nicholas Harrison Clarendon Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: "Sade and Surrealism" begins on p. 127
Toward the Poetics of Surrealism By J. H. Matthews Syracuse University Press, 1976
Librarian’s tip: "The Marquis de Sade" begins on p. 124
French Women and the Age of Enlightenment By Samia I. Spencer Indiana University Press, 1984
Librarian’s tip: "The Problem of Sexual Equality in Sadean Prose" begins on p. 332
The Self and Its Pleasures: Bataille, Lacan, and the History of the Decentered Subject By Carolyn J. Dean Cornell University Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Part Two "Sade's Selflessness"
Who Says This? The Authority of the Author, the Discourse, and the Reader By Welch D. Everman Southern Illinois University Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: "The Divine Marquis" begins on p. 100
Foucault and Religion: Spiritual Corporality and Political Spirituality By Jeremy R. Carrette Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Foucault and Sade" begins on p. 65
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