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Marquis de Sade

Donatien Alphonse Francois

Marquis de Sade

Born June 2, 1740
Paris, Kingdom of France
(now France)
Died December 2, 1814 (aged 74)
Charenton-Saint-Maurice, Kingdom of France
(now Saint-Maurice, France)
Works The 120 Days of Sodom (1785)
Justine (1791)
Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795)
Juliette (1799)
Known For Publishing philosophical pornography
Religion Athiest
Parents Jean Baptiste François Joseph, Comte de Sade

Marie Eléonore de Maillé de Carman
Spouse Renée-Pélagie Cordier de Launay (m. 1763, d. 1810)

Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (June 2, 1740 - December 2, 1814) was an infamous French aristocrat and author of heavily philosophical pornography, as well as more traditional essays on philosophy. Sadism, a paraphilia in which pleasure is derived from inflicting pain or seeing pain being inflicted on others, is named after him. The debauched lifestyle of the Marquis de Sade caused him to have periods of imprisonment.[1] Marquis de Sade was an atheist[2] and insidious Russophobe. His philosophical worldview, including most infamously his belief that nature requires that humanity be cruel to each other, was ultimately derived from La Mettrie's claim that under atheism, people should embrace selfish hedonism.[3]

His books featured murder, torture, blasphemy and grotesque, violent, and ritualistic sex. His more major works remain banned in many countries to the present day, even though some of them have been highly influential; Juliet, a book released early in his career, has been imitated right up until the present, most recently by radical feminist Andrea Dworkin (who viewed de Sade as representative of all men[4]). In addition, Michel Foucault was also heavily influenced by his writings, although he would later admit that he felt "[Sade] didn't go far enough."[5] A very common theme throughout his writings was his focus on Virtue ethics, especially the rejoicing of vice conquering virtue, the idea that giving into vice is preferable, and the prosperity of the vicious over the suffering of the virtuous. To this end, he greatly enjoyed the concept of corrupting and/or ruining prominent members of the Catholic Church through vice. Sacrilege against Christianity in particular was a major theme in his writings.

The Journal of Medical Ethics declared concerning the atheist and sadist Marquis de Sade:

In 1795 the Marquis de Sade published his La Philosophie dans le boudoir, in which he proposed the use of induced abortion for social reasons and as a means of population control. It is from this time that medical and social acceptance of abortion can be dated, although previously the subject had not been discussed in public in modern times. It is suggested that it was largely due to de Sade's writing that induced abortion received the impetus which resulted in its subsequent spread in western society.[6]

During a portion of his life, the Marquis de Sade had problems maintaining his weight, and he was grotesquely obese.[7]

Involvement in the French Revolution

He was also directly responsible for the raid of the Bastille, and by extension the start of the French Revolution, where he used a makeshift megaphone to instigate a mob inferring that the Bastille was torturing people (the Bastille in reality barely even had prisoners inside, and did not use torture), which resulted in him being relocated, although not before the damage was done. After being freed by the Jacobins, he then, adopting the title of Citizen Sade, proceeded to join the group, acting as one of the more radical members for the group during his activities as part of the Section des Piques, until he was imprisoned again due to infighting with Robespierre. Even after his imprisonment, however, he still saw influence with at least two of the more notorious elements of the French Revolution and Reign of Terror: The first involved the guillotines at Arras (see 120 Days of Sodom below), and the other involved the Republican Marriage executions at the Noyades in the Loire, which had been organized by Jean-Baptiste Carrier, who had described them as Le flambeau de la philosophie (one of Sade's expressions). As such, he was tied with Jean-Jacques Rousseau as being the most influential in the French Revolution.[8]

120 Days of Sodom

The 120 Days of Sodom was one of his most notorious books. He wrote it over a thirty-seven day period in 1785 while he was imprisoned in the Bastille. He described this book as "the most impure tale that has ever been written since the world exists", which may very well be true to the present day. He died believing that this book was lost to the ages- unfortunately, a direct descendant found it in the mid-20th century, despite the attempts of his immediate relatives trying to destroy everything he wrote that remained unpublished immediately after his death. Elements of his book were likewise utilized for the victims of the Guillotine by Joseph Lebon, one of the Jacobins, where he and his wife had the decapitated corpses unclothed and placed in obscene positions mirroring that of the batteries nationales.[8] This book was adapted by controversial director Pier Paolo Pasolini in that director's final and most radically offensive film.[9] The last years of the Marquis' life were spent in an insane asylum, though the reasons for this vary depending on the source. His years in the asylum have been dramatised in the critically-acclaimed play (and later film) Marat/Sade,[10] as well as in the dramatic film Quills.[10]

His work was largely banned in the USA until the relaxation of obscenity laws in the 1960s and 1970s.

Marquis de Sade advocated a law that every citizen would have a right of free access to the body of every other citizen

See also: Atheism and rape

The American sociologist Peter L. Berger wrote concerning the Marquis de Sade:

The infamous Marquis de Sade was residing in a lunatic asylum when he penned his last work, a tract entitled “One More Effort and You will be True Republicans”.[11] That effort was for a law that every citizen would have a right of free access to the body of every other citizen.[12]

Marquis de Sade on cannibalism

See also: Atheism and cannibalism

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute's website First Principles 1st Web Journal declares:

If there is no God, no hell, no right and wrong, no moral responsibility, no meaning or significance beyond your pleasure, then existence is meaningless. Nothing you do matters, others do not matter, and what you do with them—and to them—does not matter. Nihilism liberates. For the Sadean egotist, then, everything is permitted. Sade incessantly rationalized the most depraved and libertine sexuality, and every crime including cannibalism and murder.[13]

Marquis de Sade quote

"Imperious, choleric, irascible, extreme in everything, with a dissolute imagination the like of which has never been seen, atheistic to the point of fanaticism, there you have me in a nutshell, and kill me again or take me as I am, for I shall not change.” - Marquis de Sade[14]

"The name of God shall never be uttered save when accompanied by invectives or imprecations, and thus qualified it shall be repeated as often as possible." -Marquis de Sade, in The 120 Days of Sodom

See also