Marquis De Sade: The Genius of Passion by Ronald Hayman

Marquis de Sade: The Genius of PassionOpening Sentence:‘To explain evil,’ said Baudelaire in his Journaux intimes, ‘we must always go back to Sade – that is to normal man.
Synopsis:The Marquis de Sade and his works – widely banned until the late 1960s – still have the power to shock. He has been vilified and cast as a rapist, misogynist and pornographer; as brute and madman. The sexual obsessions of the ‘Divine Marquis’ (which include rape, torture and mutilation) emerged at an early age. Yet the complexity of his character, the full details of his life and the significance of his writing have long been overshadowed by the reductive concept of sadism to which he gave his name and the prejudice his infamy inspired. This searching biography examines de Sade’s deviant life against the backdrop of repression, violence and change that was eighteenth century France.
Comments:Like most people, I knew that Marquis de Sade was the inspiration for the word ‘sadism’. I also knew that he had written books noted for their explicit descriptions of sex, rape and torture. This was just one aspect of his character, however, and this book exposes us to others. Though he subscribed to and, in many cases, practiced the libertine philosophy, this was by no means unique or even unusual for the nobility of the eighteenth century. Sade spent much of his life in prison, not because of these practices (though this was the excuse given) but rather, due to the political maneuvering of his mother-in-law. Though I find Sade’s view of life distasteful, if not sickening, I understand how he came upon it and, at times, I even pity him. Hayman’s book is not always a pleasant read, but it is an informative one.

Categories: Impressions

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