Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies


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by Franceschina, John

Of his work in Vincennes only two small fragments have been published a short dialogue on religion and the plan for a comedy and I do not know if much else has survived. All through his imprisonment he kept a diary, partly written in cypher, but it has either been destroyed or is still in the possession of his descen- dants. It is probable, however, that he worked out his technique of writing that he afterwards adhered to, 50 LIFE It was his custom first of all to make a rough plan of the work in project just a few pages noting the salient traits of his characters and working out the time schedule and similar mechanical details.

When his mind was clear on the main outlines of the work he would write the first draft extremely quickly, abbreviating and not revising. He would do about four thousand words a day. His handwriting was neat and even, and very close. He left big margins, in which at the first revision he would insert all necessary additions and corrections. Longer additions he would write in a separate notebook. When the original draft had been improved and reshaped to his complete satisfaction he would make a fair copy of the whole. He also kept notebooks filled with quotations and odd sentences.

His technique of writing has been compared with some justice to that of Balzac and Proust.

DLI Library of Plays

In February, de Sade was transferred to the Bastille and given quarters in the ironically named Tour de la Libert. But though physical freedom was denied to him he attained with his pen such mental freedom as few have known either before or since his time. Every variety of human behaviour was scrutinised and criticised by him with an extraordinary individual independence.

In his twelve-year isolation he developed a complete philosophy. The only interruptions of his solitude were the occasional visits of his wife, and these were discon- tinued after a time. By far the greater part of the writings of de Sade that we possess were written during this period. He wrote in every conceivable style plays in verse and prose, short stories of a comic and also a dramatic nature, novels, essays and miscellanies. From notes and fragments we know the titles of some of the works that have been lost. There are thirty-five acts of plays, of which we barely know the titles.

There was a four-volume literary miscellany La Portefeuille d'un Homme de Lettres, of which all but a few traces have disappeared. The four-volume novel Aline et Valcour was written in The draft of Les Journees de So dome is dated , The first version of Justine was written in , the second probably the following year; and it is to my mind almost certain that the first three volumes of Juliette also were written before It is even tempting to say that he caused it. In June of he tried to escape by forcing his way through the sentries but was prevented.


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Thereupon he had the idea of inciting the people against the Bastille, which he did by scattering from his windows notes describing the bad treatment the prisoners were receiving; on July 2nd LIFE he improvised a loudspeaker from a tube and a funnel and called on the populace to rescue the prisoners who were having their throats cut. A crowd was gathered by this device and the governor of the prison thought sufficiently seriously of the danger to write: "If Monsieur de Sade is not removed to-night from the Bastille I cannot be answerable to the King for the safety of the building.

Eleven days later the ancient and almost empty fortress of the Bastille was stormed by the mob, whose anger against it had been so inexplicably roused. Three- quarters of de Sade's manuscripts " whose loss he wept for with tears of blood " were lost on this occasion, thanks to the dilatoriness of his wife, who put off fetching them from day to day.

She also had destroyed some other manu- scripts of his which he had confided to her, on the grounds that they might be possibly politically dangerous. In March the constituent assembly released all prisoners held by lettre de cachet, and on Good Friday in de Sade re-entered the world, a free man at the age of fifty, after thirteen years almost continual imprison- ment, mostly in virtual solitary confinement.

It is pos- sible that his sons met him at his release; but the elder shortly after emigrated to Germany, thereby causing his father considerable danger; the younger was a knight of Malta and stayed at his post abroad during most of the Revolution. His wife had obtained a separation and refused to see him, nor did they ever meet again; their only contact was through their lawyer in quarrels over money, Madame de Sade kept their daughter Laura, who seems to have been almost a mental defective, with her. It seems as though the two women emigrated during the Terror. In a letter to the lawyer he describes his con- dition as follows: " In prison my sight and my lungs have been ruined he seems to have been practically blind in one eye since ; being deprived of all exercise I have become so enormously fat that I can hardly move; all my feelings are extinguished; I have no longer any taste for anything, I like nothing any more; the world which foolishly enough I so wildly regretted seems to me so boring.

I had been very busy during my imprisonment, and had fifteen volumes ready for the press; on my release I have only about a quarter left, thanks to the criminal carelessness of Madame de Sade. He has never enough, for with the inflation the value of money is always descending; moreover he had great difficulties in collection, firstly as being the father of migrs, and later as being erroneously inscribed by a mistake in Christian names as an Emigre himself. These letters show the worst side of his character, testy and sycophantic in turns, disingenuous to the point of dis- honesty, disproportionately avaricious.

Where money is concerned de Sade shows all the vices of his family, and of many of his compatriots. His only excuse is his age and infirmity, and the fact that he was a great deal of the time in actual want. Also his behaviour is very much on a par with that of the rest of his relations and in-laws with whom the lawyer had to deal. There are few people who 54 LIFE would appear to advantage in their dealings with their lawyer and steward; de Sade, who had a Frenchman's reverence for the centime, certainly does not.

Almost as soon as de Sade was freed he regained the administration of his estate, and accepted the deed of separation from his wife, by which he agreed to, but did not, pay her alimony. For a little while his sons were with him. Madame Quesnet was probably an actress by another account she was the wife of an emigr ; but she was a cultivated and intelligent woman with a large and useful circle of acquaintances ; according to de Sade she was a paragon of all the virtues. They were very devoted to one another and shared good and bad fortune together; their mutual affection only ended with de Sade's death.

He had con- siderable success with his plays. Le Comte Oxtiern was acted with a certain success at the Theatre Moliere in Several others were accepted by different theatres. He appears to have mixed a great deal with actors at this time ; one Monvel, a revolutionary, was one of his chief friends, and he took lessons in acting from another called Mol. Considering himself a professional playwright he was ready to write pieces to order; and it is his admis- sion of this fact in a letter to his lawyer which has led some people to suppose that his pen was always venal despite the consistency of all his published work.

In also the first version of Justine appeared ; it had a considerable success and ran through five editions in the next ten years. The novel Aline et Valcour was also accepted, but for various reasons connected with the pub- lishers did not appear till two years later. At this period he was nearly ruined, for his name had been included in the list of former nobles published in Also his health was bad. Nevertheless he worked for the Revolution to the best of his abilities ; he became secretary and speaker for the Section des Piques formerly Venddme , the section to which Robespierre belonged.

It was in the latter function that he was chosen to make a funeral oration in favour of Marat and Le Pelletier, which oration had so much success that it was printed and dis- tributed through France at the public expense. I do not know whether it is pure chance that thus joined these three names together, but it is a happy coin- cidence.

De Sade has much in common with both the subjects of his eulogy. Marat was a scientist before he was a revolutionary; his work on the diffraction of light, though considered incorrect nowadays, was far nearer to what is to-day held to be the truth than that of his con- temporaries ; but because of its very novelty he had the heresy to try to criticise Newton he was excommunicated by the learned bodies of the time.

His revolutionary activity was chiefly journalistic, starting under the old regime and continued despite persecution and illness to the day of his murder. He was continually critical; 56 LIFE neither success nor reputation were safe from him. It was only in his savagery that de Sade, sworn enemy of the death penalty, could not follow him. Le Pelletier was also a strict egalitarian who achieved a certain power.

Gothic Tales of the Marquis de Sade

He believed, as did de Sade, in the enormous possibilities of education for the alteration of man's habits, and until he too was murdered devoted his energies to that end. De Sade was assiduous in his functions with the Societe, and wrote another petition in their name to the people of France.

He also made a petition about religion, which he claims was the origin of all the anti-religious movement; this, however, has not been preserved, unless the first part of the pamphlet quoted in Chapter VI is an elaboration of it. He was also engaged in the inspection of hospitals. But when the senseless butcheries of the Terror occurred de Sade could follow the revolutionaries no longer. Those people who are surprised at his gentleness and moderation at this time show a very superficial under- standing of both his character and his work.

Among the innumerable other victims of the mob's fury were the President and Madame de Montreuil, his wife's parents who were the immediate cause of his misery for the last twenty years. By a curious coincidence de Sade was president of the bench before which they came to trial. With a magnanimity worthy of his heroine Justine he voted against their execution; and like Justine he found that virtue was always punished; he was imprisoned for moderantism. I do not think that it is necessary to seek elaborate explanations for de Sade's behaviour on this occasion. He had the courage now as throughout his life to act up to his theories.

And his own account of his actions explain his motives. Yesterday, for example, after having been forced to with- draw twice I was forced to abandon my seat to the vice- prsident. They wanted me to put to the vote a horrible, an inhuman project. I definitely refused. If I had said a word they were lost. I kept my peace.

His final prison at Picpus was the worst of all. It was a beautiful place with a lovely garden. In the centre of the garden was the guillotine. More than a thousand people were executed under his window and buried in the garden during a month of his imprisonment there, a great number being his fellow- prisoners. It is possible that he had to help in the burial. The date of his own execution was fixed but the reaction occurred just in time.

There is little wonder that a year later he was still haunted by this nightmare. It is neces- sary to keep this experience of his in mind when con- sidering his work. Finally in October he was released by the efforts of Madame Quesnet. It is possible that the deputy Rovre, though unknown to him personally, may have been responsible for this. He later sold to him his estate at La Coste; the cMteau had been pillaged and destroyed by the peasants. In the winter of life in Paris was torture. Paper money was practically valueless, food nearly unobtainable, 58 LIFE and the weather the coldest of the century.

It is a curious coincidence that excessive cold and excessive misery often seem to go together. Under these circumstances de Sade set about trying to earn a living. There is still in existence a letter of his dated February, to the Conventionnel Bernard demanding employ- ment in any form, whether as ambassador, writer, keeper of a library or a museum or indeed any position where he could gain a subsistence. His application seems to have been unsuccessful and he had to rely on his writing.

The novel Aline et Valcour was issued by a different publisher with some success; and he wrote and published at the same period La Philosophic dans le Boudoir. This is not only the shortest of his works but also the most nearly pornographic; it was probably written with the direct aim of money-making. The ideas in it are almost entirely repetitions from his major works, and were it not for the incorporation of a very important political pamphlet which will be considered later in detail it would not be of much interest.

It is possible also that from this year should be dated the pamphlet entitled Une Idee sur le mode de la sanction des Lois in which he proposes that laws should be brought forward by the deputies but voted on directly by the people, because "one should admit to the sanction- ing of laws that part of the people who are most unfortunate, and since it is them that the law strikes most frequently they should be allowed to choose the law by which they consent to be stricken. Socialism had disappeared and nationalism was trium- phant. Private property was still respected, there was still glaring inequality, office seekers and rogues were still in power.

Heine dates this pamphlet In his pessimism, his disgust and rage at mankind, he threw on to the booksellers' shelves those poisoned bombs, the ten volumes of La Nouvelle Justine ou les Malheurs de la Vertu suivie de VHistoire de Juliette sa sceur. With terrific irony he presented a copy bound in white vellum to each of the five directors. These volumes were published if not written during the only five years in the whole history of Christendom in which they could be openly sold.

Despite the engravings which adorned the first edition and which stress exclusively if rather naively the obscenity of the work, these books were openly displayed in the bookseller's windows. In Napoleon had all the copies that he could find destroyed, and since that date his work has been persecuted and burned. Organised authority has vowed an inveterate war against his work and his ideas; only recently have a few people dared to start republishing his books in small, costly, limited editions ; and though he is now in some quarters praised as rashly as he was blamed before chiefly with a desire to shock he still remains almost completely unread.

But although the publication of this work may have aided the reputation of de Sade albeit his life long he officially denied the authorship with considerable vigour it did not help him financially, and in , the same year as these volumes appeared, we find another letter from him asking to be paid as soon as possible for some work he had done. In the summer of the next year he returned to Provence for the last time accompanied by Quesnet, in an effort to get some money from thence.

The journey was in every way disastrous. Not only did he get no 60 LIFE money, he found his name was by mistake on a list of migrs from which, owing to the confusion in Christian names, he could not get it removed ; he was also involved in an action for slander. From this date until about 1 when his family settled an annuity on him in exchange for all his property except a small portion he had settled on Quesnet he was in the greatest misery and poverty imaginable.

In he was glad to get a job at the theatre at Versailles for forty sols a day, which sum had to keep both him and Quesnet's son by her husband, while the faithful Sensible' made every effort in Paris to get work or help. His play Oxtiern was revived there with some success; he himself acted the r6le of Fabrice, the young lover. A letter from him covering two copies of this play has been preserved ; he begs the addressee to try to get the same play performed at Chartres ; he would be willing to act in it again, and in any case would come to supervise rehearsals.

His already broken-down health gave way under this regime ; his sight became so bad that he could no longer see to write ; he was forced to spend three months of the winter of in the public hospital at Versailles, absolutely penniless, with only the food and clothes of charity. Even from this refuge he was finally turned out 44 dying of hunger and of cold," and in danger of being imprisoned for debt.

In the spring his situation must have improved; either his sons, who had now returned, or Quesnet, or his incurably dilatory steward must have come to his help. The theatre, however, would not accept it because Louis XI appears on the stage, and a year later he appealed over their heads directly to the Conventionnel Goupilleau de Montaigu. This letter, coming from a once proud man, now nearly sixty and destitute, has a rather tragic interest.

It is too long to quote more than a portion of it. I was unhappy under the old regime, so you can understand that I must fear a return to an order of which I should inevitably be one of the first victims. The talents I offer to the Republic are disinterested ; if a plan of work is made out for me I will execute it, and I dare to say that it will be satisfactory. But I pray you, citizen, put a stop to that horrible injustice which is cooling for me the feelings with which I am warmed; why do they wish to give me cause for complaint against a government for which I would lay down a thousand lives if I had them?

Why has all I own been confiscated for the last two years, and why during that period have I been reduced to charity without in the least deserving such horrible treatment? Aren't people convinced that instead of emigrating I was occupied in all sorts of employment during the most terrible revolutionary years? Do I not possess the most authentic certificates possible? Then if they are per- suaded that I am innocent, why am I treated as guilty? Why do they try to force into the ranks of the enemies of the Republic one of its warmest and most zealous par- 62 tisans?

It seems to me such conduct is as unjust as it is impolitic. Have I ever been known to share their conduct and their sentiments?

Assassin's Creed: Unity - Marquis de Sade

My actions have destroyed the wrongs of my origin, and it is to that reason that I owe all the attacks that the royalists have made on me, especially Poultier in his paper of the I2th fructidor last. But I defy them as I hate them. Goupilleau seems to have answered politely and kept him dangling; the play was not, as far as is known, performed. It will be seen that de Sade protests almost over- emphatic admiration for the republic, which, as I pointed out earlier, had fallen so far short of his ideals. But bad as the republic was, it was better than the danger that de Sade, with his keen political foresight, saw approaching, the danger of a new tyranny, of an empire, of Napoleon.

It is hard to understand nowadays how this book pro- voked such a violent storm and scandal; it is nearly incomprehensible. We can only suppose that his claim that it represents history is true ; that he displayed in the most ludicrous light anecdotes then current about these people and that they were accepted as true by his readers.

The only passage that has any interest for us is his analysis of the reasons for Napoleon's future success, reasons that are equally valid to-day for the rise of dictators. He says 11 : "All the parties in France cross and shock one another there is no rallying point. The so-called aris- tocrat detests the rule of men covered with blood and crime. The mad demagogue is furious that people dare to muzzle him and that those in power leave him to dis- grace.

The nervous and indifferent who form the greatest number pray for a single master who joins courage to vision, virtue to talent, and they find him in d'Orsec Napoleon. His marriage with Zolo Josephine gains him the adhesion of the proscribed class. He paid the penalty of his rashness. He should have remembered the distich he had placed at the head of Aline et Valcour. His case did not come up for hearing. In a letter of June, 1 , he demands that he should be judged : he had been imprisoned for fifteen months although legally he should have been tried within ten days.

The Minister of Justice replied by giving an order that he should be forgotten for a while. This was a favourite trick of Napoleon's, to declare mad any enemy of his whom he could not catch on a criminal charge. There is no question that de Sade was really insane; even the doctors in charge of him denied it. It would have been perhaps more merciful for him if he had been. Even the consolation of his writing was denied to him now; periodically police officers came to hunt for his manuscripts, wherever he hid them, and confiscated them.

Some were kept, some were seized at his house prior to his arrest, others after his death; the greater part were burnt by the police at the request of his son. The old age of Lear was not more tragic than that of this man, living too sane among lunatics. Under his protection de Sade developed a project which saved him from dying from boredom; he instituted a theatre for madmen. Occasionally he got actors and actresses from outside; more often he trained the less violent of the lunatics to act themselves, coaching them and producing the spectacles ; they acted both the ordinary repertory and plays specially written for them by de Sade 65 E MARQUIS DE SADE himself.

We cannot know to what extent he did this consciously as a therapeutic measure ; it is anyhow a line of approach that could be developed with advantage by alienists to-day. As a method of re-education play-acting offers enormous possibilities. It was possibly due also to Coulmier's benevolence that the novel Les Journees de Florbelle a work in which Louis XV, Fleury and the Comte de Charolais were among the characters got so near publication before it too was seized by the police in , an d that La Marquise de Gange, if it is by him, was published in It was also due to Coulmier that he was able to enjoy a certain amount of freedom of communication and to receive visits.

Quesnet, whom for the sake of appearances he described as his natural daughter there is certainly no truth in this statement visited him freely; it is even pos- sible that she lived in the asylum for a certain time. One of the only two letters which survive from this epoch bear both their names; it is concerned with the settlement de Sade made on her. Guests came in from outside, though the issuing of invitations depended entirely on the director.

We have a list of invitations for May 23rd, , which includes the local mayors and curates, doctors, a lady-in-waiting of the Queen of Holland and various other people; also thirty-six employees of the building and sixty patients. On these occasions de Sade acted as producer and master of ceremonies.

On special occasions, such as the director's birthday, or a visit to the asylum of a notability such as the Cardinal Maury, de Sade composed special allegorical 66 LIFE pieces or else wrote a poem to be recited or sung for the occasion. The verses written for the visit of the Cardinal in still exist; they are such as one might expect as competent as a poet laureate would produce on a similar occasion, and equally untouched by poetry.

But even now de Sade was not free from persecution. In the head doctor wrote to the chief of the police incidentally it would be interesting to know what the police had to do with an asylum a violent attack on de Sade, grudging him his comparative freedom of move- ment and communication and demanding his removal to some fortress. He attacks the play-acting by the lunatics as unorthodox and liable to bad effects though it had been going on for some years he could not show any and states formally that de Sade was in no way mad "his only delirium being that of vice.

Then the same doctor got his way and the plays were forbidden; they were replaced by concerts and balls. In de Sade appealed vainly to Napoleon for his release. In his letter he stated that he had spent over twenty years of the most miserable life in the world in prison, that he was now nearly seventy, almost blind, and suffering from gout and rheumatism in the chest and stomach.

There are several accounts of him in his old age. They show him to be quick-tempered as always, extremely polite, graceful in his movements, rather fat and white- haired; we can picture him to some extent. There is no known portrait of him at any time of his life and the only description of him in his youth that I can find is the rather summary one of the witnesses at Marseilles where he is described as shorter than his servant, fair-haired and 67 MARQUIS DE SADE rather plump. At that time he was smartly dressed and wore a sword.

Of the last years of his life we know nothing. He died on December 2nd, 1 8 14, at the age of seventy-four. The cause of his death was given as " pulmonary congestion. The last paragraph was as follows : "I expressly forbid my body to be opened under any consideration soever. I ask with the greatest emphasis that my body shall be kept for forty-eight hours in the room I shall die in, placed in a wooden coffin which shall only be nailed down on the expiration of the time men- tioned ; during this interval an express messenger shall be sent to the sieur Lenormand, wood merchant, at Versailles to pray him to come himself accompanied with a wagon to fetch my body to be transported under his escort to the wood on my property at Malmaison in the commune of Mance near Epernon, where I wish it to be placed, without any sort of ceremony, in the first thicket on the right in the said wood, entering from the direction of the old chateau by the large road which divides the wood.

My grave shall be dug in the thicket by the Malmaison farmer under the inspection of M. Lenormand, who will only leave my body after it has been placed in the said grave ; if he wishes he can be accompanied in this cere- mony by those of my relations and friends, who, without mourning of any sort, will have the kindness to show me this last mark of attachment.

Once the grave has been filled it shall be sown over with acorns so that subsequently the said grave being replanted and the thicket being tangled as it was before, the traces of my tomb may dis- appear from the face of the earth, as I flatter myself that my memory will be wiped away from the minds of men. Signed D. The passionate atheist was given Christian burial and a stone cross set over him.

But that was not sufficient indignity. It was small and well-shaped; at first glance it might be taken for a woman's head, especially as the bumps of tenderness and love of children are as prominent as in the head of H61oise, that model of tenderness and love. Actually it is not a bad epitaph.

The collection of letters written to the lawyer Gaufridy and published by Paul Bourdin in under the title of La Gorrespon- dance intdite du Marquis de Sade gives a good deal of information, especially about the years and About half the letters are from de Sade, the rest being from his relations, his wife, his mother-in-law, Mademoiselle de Rousset, and various people with whom he had business.

Nobody's character comes particularly well out of this correspondence; they are mostly about money, speculations about wills, and methods of defrauding the revenue, etc. They do however clear up a number of riddles in the life of de Sade. Anything which is against de Sade is true, anything in his favour is an exaggeration or a lie. He cannot even mention a list of de Sade's books without suggesting that he has bought but not read them.

Bourdin is a very superior person, but despite his prejudices the book is informative, though not interesting. The Second Letter to the People of Corinth. This Essay, written and published in , when all his major work was written, is of considerable interest, for not only does it give his ideas on the function and art of the novel, and fiction generally, but is also a tacit criticism and justification of his own work.

The fact that he formally denies the authorship of Justine therein is of no importance; at the date of writing it was the only policy. He starts by sketching the origin of the novel. Deriding those people who would seek an origin in one country or in one people, he places the origin of fiction in two ingrained human weaknesses prayer and love.

The first fiction arose when the first religion was invented. Somewhat later ideal and lyrical love-stories were written. He glances over the novels of the Romans and Greeks incidentally he states that Petronius' Satyricon should not be considered a novel; he shared with his contemporaries the idea that it was a personal satire on Nero to consider in greater detail the productions of Christian Europe, and especially France. Neither the chansons de geste nor the fabliaux can be considered as real novels, though the latter come nearer to being so ; it was only when gallantry was added to observation that the novel was born.

Almost at once the novel reached its apogee Don Quixote is for him the best novel ever written. He also rates very highly the Princesse de Cleves of Madame de Lafayette, mentioning in passing the absurd supposition that being a woman she must have had help from men to make a masterpiece ; women, he says, are more fitted to novel-writing than men, owing to their greater delicacy. His judgments on the French novels of the eighteenth century are so just and so much in accordance with the accepted taste of to-day that they do not need repeating; he gives Voltaire and Rousseau their just praise, and takes to task Crebillon, Tanzai and their followers writers who are considered typically 'eighteenth century' for their immorality.

From these he excepts Provost, whom he admires very much. He then turns to the English novel. He then deals with the 'Gothic 1 novel. For him who knows the misery the wicked can inflict on mankind the novel became as difficult to write as it was boring to read; there was no one who did not undergo more mis- fortunes in five years than the best novelist could describe in a century; therefore hell had to be called in to help and interest, to find in nightmare merely what one knew ordinarily just by glancing over the history of man in this age of iron.

If a successful work appeared without being wrecked on either point, far from blaming the means employed we would offer it as a model. After this historical survey he makes some general considerations on the novel.

DLI Library of Plays | Page 2 | DLI The Drama League of Ireland

He then proceeds to give advice to other writers. Descriptions of places, unless imaginary, should be exact. It is not necessary to keep to the original plan, for ideas that come in the course of writing are just as useful, provided the interest is kept up. Incidents the short story inserted into the body of the main work was still general when this was written must be even better than the main body to justify themselves.

An author should never moralise, though his characters may. But above everything don't write unless you have to; if you need money make boots and we will respect you as a competent cobbler; if you write for money your work will show it. Finally he justifies himself for the attacks made on Aline et Valcour. An otherwise unknown journalist, 74 LITERARY WORK Villeterque, filled a column in attacking de Sade as advocating crime and immorality; in an extremely witty and spirited reply de Sade justifies himself, analysing his essay and stories; he applies the Aristotelean canon of purging by pity and terror and asks, "From what can terror spring, save from pictures of crime triumphant, or pity save from virtue in distress?

Books by John Franceschina

All his theatrical work obviously falls into this category, for a play is only still-born till it is acted before an audience ; but of his twenty or more comedies and dramas in verse and prose we know nothing save the plots of three of them and the titles of a few more. In the given 75 MARQUIS DE SADE plots he employs the devices which he also uses in his novels babies changed in the cradle and the Aristotelean Anagnorisis, or recognition of characters by one another, either just in time or just too late the chief distinction between melodrama and tragedy ; we cannot know the way he developed these very general devices.

He appears to have shown some originality in form, if not in content, for we possess the plan for an entertainment made up of five different pieces tragedy, comedy, opera, pantomime and ballet respectively, each complete in itself yet each adding to the main plot or frame which held the pieces together. I have much sympathy with this idea per- sonally, for to me a visit to the contemporary theatre is almost always an agony of boredom ; after the first quarter of an hour the style is set and not deviated from till the final curtain.

He also wrote three full-length historical novels; these again we only know of by their titles. Incidentally in his renovation of the historical novel also he seems to have been a precursor; I do not know of any other eighteenth-century novelist who used history as a frame for romance and went to the original sources and documents for verisimilitude. Waverky was published some years after his death. His four-volume Portefeuille d'un Homme de Lettres has fared little better; we only know a very rough plan of the work and a few isolated scraps.

It was to be in the form of a correspondence between a man in Paris and two young ladies in the country and was to cover a very wide range of subjects, from the art of writing a comedy to the etymology of words ; there was to be a dissertation on the death penalty, a plan to employ criminals in such a way that they should be useful to the State, a letter on luxury, and another on education, treating of forty-four points of morality.

The more serious subjects were to be diversified by anecdotes; of these a dozen have come down to us. They are amusing and well told. A certain number are definitely indecent in a humorous 'gaulois' style the last thing one would have expected from de Sade; a couple deal with well-attested local ghost stories. After his diary from 1 this is the work whose disappearance I regret the most. The diary, if it could be found, would almost certainly be the most extraordinary document humanity has ever known. The rest of the works which have disappeared but the existence of which we know of may be mentioned here.

They include four novels, one of them humorous ; memoirs and confessions; plans for a public brothel, and for a spectacle similar to that of the Roman gladiators his intention in this proposal will be found in Chapter VIII ; and the strange historical novel already mentioned Les Journees de Florbelle in which public characters whom he may well have known figured.

A great deal of his correspondence chiefly dealing with business or family affairs has been published. His political pam- phlets have been referred to in the first chapter. He probably wrote more which have not been identified. In brief, all that remains to us of his normal literary work, besides the essay already referred to, are thirty- seven short stories. Of these eleven were published in his lifetime, a twelfth under the editorship of Anatole France in , and the remainder in , edited by Maurice Heine, who transcribed them from the manu- scripts in the French National Library.

On the whole they are very competent, written in a sober and economical style though, as are nearly all his works, bespattered by fixed epithets and mechanical similes of the order of 77 MARQUIS DE SADE 1 beautiful as a rose' ; the denouement is well worked up to and dramatically emphasised; Les Crimes de V Amour are nearly all on the thesis of the struggle between virtue and vice usually with disastrous results to the actors of either side ; they are chiefly remarkable for the meticulous accuracy of the local and historical details.

The humorous stories are much slighter; they are chiefly surprising in that they show in de Sade a sense of humour and gaiety that could never have been suspected from his other work ; they have an epigrammatic neatness which would give the author an honourable place among his lighter contemporaries. I give two short quotations as samples of this style : " There is a sort of pleasure for one's pride in making fun of faults one doesn't possess oneself, and such pleasures are so sweet to all men, and particularly to fools that it is extremely uncommon to see them give them up The magistrate has been made drunk and is giving his profession of faith in his office ; unfortunately the pun is untranslatable.

Oui, oui, c'est juste, repondit la folle marquise. The plot of the work is the sexual education of a young girl, a perpetual device of pornographic writers. True, it is done with more verve and greater variety than in most similar books, and the intellectual equivalent of sexual emancipation receives at least as much space as the physical side; there are many traces of de Sade's individual approach to such problems; but the aim of the book is obviously to excite the reader and therefore pornographic; it is the only work of de Sade's against which such an accusation can be laid with honesty.

It is possible however for a book to have interest, even with the exclusion of these two subjects. I am forced, therefore, to give a rather long account of it. It is really three completely distinct novels, linked together by rather slight threads of a secondary intrigue. The main book occupying the first and fourth volumes is a dramatic and tragic story told in letters; the second volume is an account of a symbolical voyage, somewhat in the style of Swift; the third volume is an adventure story.

For convenience I shall refer to these different parts as the story of Aline and Valcour, the story of Sain- ville, and the story of Leonora respectively. A poor young man, Valcour, is in love with Aline, the daughter of the Magistrate de Blamont. Aline loves him in return and his suit is favoured by her mother, a charming woman and a sincere Christian. These three are all honourable people, governed by their heart rather than by their head, sentimental, virtuous, religious and stupid.

Aline's father disapproves of the match owing to its imprudence; he has found for his daughter a thoroughly acceptable husband in the financier Dolburg, a rich man already three times widowed, a friend of de Blamont's and his companion in debauchery. Aline, however, is constant in her love, and seconded by her mother uses every possible device to postpone the arranged wedding, De Blamont, infuriated by this resistance uses all his powers to cause the wedding to take place.

The scene is set for the conflict. On one side there is sentiment, honour, religion the heart; on the other the intellect which acknowledges no laws but those of reason, no prejudices, no tacit agreements. The heart is bound to lose, for it considers itself bound by conventions and decencies at which the intellect laughs.

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The action is straightforward. When all legal means of forcing his daughter to the marriage have been foiled either by Madame de Blamont or friends, de Blamont tries to have the girl kidnapped. This too fails, as does an attempt to bribe Valcour to renounce his claims, and a subsequent attempt to have him assassinated. De Blamont therefore decides to isolate the girl, removing by one device or another all her friends, and finally causing her mother to be poisoned by a servant he had seduced.

Escape is impossible, all her appeals for pity are dismissed; in complete despair the girl commits suicide. The book is extremely well written. The characters and beliefs of the different actors are excellently revealed in their letters; the emotion continually and carefully heightened, and the climax is handled with considerable restraint and deep feeling. Unfortunately there is a sub-plot, concerned with a lost elder daughter of Madame de Blamont, which, although it helps the intrigue it is the excuse for the introduction of the two other novels and serves to reveal de Blamont's character, is the cause of a great deal of diffuseness, and is probably the chief reason for the book never having been accorded its due.

Slightly pruned, the novel could stand against any other product of its country and century. Although he only writes six of the seventy odd letters of which the book is formed, his shadow is cast on every page. He is a materialist, an intellectual, guided entirely by his own pleasures and advantage ; he has worked out a philosophy to justify his conduct.

He gives an impression of deathly coldness. Even his debauches and atrocities heighten that impression. In face of his single-minded, un- scrupulous, cold determination the rest of the characters are like birds trying to escape from a snake. He is probably the most terrifying character ever created, the more so as we see him chiefly through the eyes of his victims. Although de Sade's later works abound in far greater monsters their very number and the lack of con- trast lessen their effect.

It has already been remarked that this novel is partly autobiographical, Valcour's life-story is de Sade's; in 82 LITERARY WORK Aline, so charming, so gay, so constant in her love despite all opposition it is surely not too far-fetched to see a portrait of the long-loved Louise de Montreuil ; and the broken-hearted letter that Valcour writes on hearing of Aline's death is, in its intensity, certainly an echo of the author's own despair.

The charitable and long-suffering wife of de Blamont may well be a picture of Madame de Sade. The story of Sainville is completely different. It is an account of a voyage, but such a voyage as only Gullivers make. In the preface de Sade says, " Nobody as yet has penetrated to Butua In Tamoe de Sade has painted his Utopia.

This volume will be analysed in subsequent chapters. The story of Leonora is the longest of the three, the most full of incident, and the dullest. The young lady is kidnapped and goes through adventure after adventure all over the world before returning home. She manages to preserve her virtue through all dangers. She has somewhat unjustly been compared with Juliette; but the latter paid for what she got: she wasn't that sort of a cheat.

In Spain, Leonora undergoes some of the vicissitudes which later afflict the unhappy Justine the cut-throat inn, the murderous monks, the band of beggars. Some of the incidents and minor characters are of great interest; the salient points will be dealt with as occasion arises, In several different places de Sade prophesies the imminence of the Revolution. The book was twice sup- pressed in the early nineteenth century as being politically subversive. Even its history is peculiar. On his removal from there the manuscript was lost, or stolen, and came into the possession of a French family where it remained for over a century.

Then a hundred and twenty years after its composition it was published by Dr. Ivan Bloch ' Eugene Diihren' in a very limited edition; a second and corrected edition was started in Paris in , but the enterprise seems to have fallen through. It was to be in four parts, preceded by an introduction and perhaps followed by an epilogue; but except for the introduction and the first part, which have been fairly fully developed, it is only in the form of detailed notes.

We shall probably never know whether de Sade used this canvas to write the complete book. As with The Castle of Kafka we have only the fragment of the intended whole; and these two fragments, utterly opposed as they are in every way, can both be qualified as masterpieces.

It includes every range of intellectual, sensual and physical activity which can possibly be brought into this category. Bloch was undoubtedly justified in claiming for this work a very high place as a scientific document, and claiming that it alone would place de Sade among the very first writers of his century. These perversions were to be described by four old women, who were to place them in the stories of their lives, thus giving four detailed life histories with their economical and social background.

These historians were to recount the perversions, to the number of five every evening during a four-month orgy, lasting from the end of October till the beginning of March, to four excessively debauched war-profiteers, their four wives, and their harem of twenty-eight subjects 85 MARQUIS DE SADE of every age and sex in a lonely and desolate medieval castle in Switzerland. During the four months the development of the thirty-six characters and their mutual interaction was to be described.

The introduction sets the scene and gives elaborate physical and mental portraits of the actors. This portrait gallery is an astounding performance, as a piece of writing hardly ever equalled. They are monstrous figures, well over life size, painted with extreme naturalism, yet crystallised to an individualism the naturalist school never attained. De Sade is absolutely merciless; we are not spared a single wrinkle, a single sore, unpleasant smell or habit, not a single meanness or treachery; no detail of cowardice or filth is hidden.

But the canvas is not monotonous; religion and beauty are there too, childish- ness and romanticism; the whole gamut of human possibilities are exhibited in their extremest development. The work starts off with a thunderclap. It would be a mistake to imagine that only business people took part in this malpractice, it had at its head very great gentlemen indeed.

The Duke de Blangis and his brother the bishop had both made enormous fortunes by these means, and are suffi- cient proof that the aristocracy did not disdain this method of making a fortune, any more than other people. It is no accident that his four villains are representatives of the four groups which represent law and order. This very slight sketch will give some notion of the scale on which the work is planned.

Details of the plot can be found in the books mentioned at the end of the chapter. De Sade was driven by two motives to write this work. The first was undoubtedly scientific; as he himself writes 10 : "Men already so different from one another in all their other manias and in all their other tastes, are even more so sexually, and he who could fix and detail these perversions would accomplish one of the finest works on morals one could wish for, and perhaps one of the most interesting.

Should we hazard new ones? Hazard hazard, replies the philosopher. People don't realise how important these pictures are to the soul's develop- ment ; our great ignorance of this science is only due to the stupid modesty of those wont to write on such matters. Held in by absurd fears they only tell us of puerilities that every fool knows and do not dare to lay hands fear- lessly on the human heart and portray its gigantic divaga- tions.

We will obey since philosophy commands and 8? The second motive which actuates this work is a mis- anthropy unequalled in human history. Lear and Timon are but pale shadows compared to de Sade at this epoch. His aim is no less than to strip every covering, both mental and physical, off man and expose him to our disgusted gaze as the mean and loathsome creature he is.

It is the supreme blasphemy. Our gods you may attack, individuals you may show to be monsters, but to attack the human race is unforgivable. Even the paler 'scientific' exposures of the Viennese psychoanalysts have called forth the most indignant remonstrances; no wonder de Sade, with his cold and objective exhibition of the most carefully hidden corners of our unconscious minds, of our daily weaknesses and meannesses, has been tracked and pursued by authority all over the world.

In this work the blasphemy reaches Mephistophelean heights. Curval complains that there are only two or three crimes to commit. He allows himself to make paradoxical moralising asides; "If crime has not the delicacy of virtue, has it not ceaselessly a character of grandeur and sublimity that surpasses and will always surpass the monotonous and effeminate features of the latter?

The account of the monastery Sainte-Marie-des-Bois in La Nouvelle Justine in particular seems to be a vain effort to reconstitute the lost work. In contrast with the fragmentary remains of Les Journees we have no less than four complete versions of Justine, written over a space of ten years. It was transcribed from the manuscript by Maurice Heine in The following year it was brought out again by another publisher with slight alterations the chief being that it is his mother, and no longer his aunt, that the 'homosexual' de Bressac feels so strongly about psychologically an important change.

This version had a considerable success in the ten following years. Although the sexual element is present none of the first three versions can be considered obscene. Finally in 1 the book was entirely re-written and expanded to more than double its size, largely by 89 MARQUIS DE SADE the inclusion of the life-story of two minor characters; probability is destroyed, the natural development is lost, the story is drowned in a deluge of blood and semen.

The basic fable is the same throughout all the versions ; it is the story of a young girl left suddenly without resources who tries to make her way through life following the precepts of religion in which she believes completely, and the misfortunes and discomforts she undergoes. Justine was to pass from the hands of one extraordinary character to another's, a miser's, a 'homo- sexual's,' a coiner's, a vegetarian and a temperance reformer's.

In every case the exercise of some Christian virtue, chiefly pity or charity or the negative abstention from crime, was to land her in one predicament after another. The final moral was to be not 'cultivate your garden,' but 'learn how to correct the caprices of fortune' anglice 'God helps those who help themselves. Bern Marcowitz warns against paperclips and other inappropriate page-savers, and offers a bit of advice on using and collecting bookmarks. These iconic children's board books are collectible if you can find an original in great condition!

Learn more about collecting Little Golden Books. What makes Biblio different? Facebook Instagram Twitter. Sign In Register Help Cart. Cart items. Toggle navigation. Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade Vol. Disclaimer:A readable copy. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact. Pages can include considerable notes-in pen or highlighter-but the notes cannot obscure the text. Dust jacket quality is not guaranteed.

Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies
Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies
Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies
Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies
Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies

Related Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade: Vol. 2: Melodramas and Tragedies



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