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Marquis de Sade

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The Marquis de Sade, Donatien Alphonse Francois (1740-1814) was a French nobleman and revolutionary whose name has become the origin of the words “sadism” and “sadist,” which connoted sexual cruelty. As a writer, the Marquis de Sade wrote numerous plays, stories and essays that espoused his philosophy of libertine sexuality. Some of his works include:

  • Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man
  • Justine
  • Philosophy in the Bedroom
  • The Crimes of Love
  • The 120 Days of Sodom
Marquis de Sade

Marquis de Sade in Paris

As a young wealthy nobleman in Paris, de Sade was notorious for his consorting with prostitutes, many of whom complained to the police about mistreatment at his hands. He was exiled to his chateau at Lacoste, where he imprisoned and sexually abused a woman. Accused of sodomy, the Marquis was sentenced to death but managed to flee to Italy.

In 1778, the Marquis returned to Paris and successfully appealed his death sentence. For a time he was imprisoned in the Bastille, transferred to an insane asylum several days before the famous prison was stormed, inaugurating the French Revolution. In 1790, he was released and elected to the National Convention, writing radical essays as well as his erotic fiction.

Napoleon and Marquis de Sade

In 1801, Napoleon again had him arrested. He was declared insane and committed to an asylum at Charenton, where the inmates performed many of his plays. During the last four years of his life, he had a sexual relationship with a 14 year old girl, the daughter of an asylum worker.

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