Marquis de Sade

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The perverse and cruel atheist Marquis de Sade in prison, 18th century line engraving.

Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) 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]

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[3]). 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."[4]

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

In 1795 the Marquis de Sade published his La Philosophic 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.[5]

The 120 Days of Sodom, perhaps his most notorious book, was written by the Marquis whilst imprisoned in the Bastille, where he witnessed daily executions from his window during the Reign of Terror. 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.[6] This book was adapted by controversial director Pier Paolo Pasolini in that director's final and most radically offensive film.[7] 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,[8] as well as in the dramatic film Quills.[9]

His work was largely banned in the USA until the relaxation of obscenity laws in the 1950s and 1960s.

During a portion of his life, the Marquis de Sade had problems maintaining his weight and he was grotesquely obese.[10]

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[11]

See also