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The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings

av Marquis de Sade

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,2131816,251 (3.4)35
The definitive compilation of texts from "a great, horrifying, but also vastly illuminating figure . . . one of the most radical minds in Western history" (Newsweek).   The Marquis de Sade, vilified by respectable society from his own time through ours, apotheosized by Apollinaire as "the freest spirit that has yet existed," wrote The 120 Days of Sodom while imprisoned in the Bastille. An exhaustive catalogue of sexual aberrations and the first systematic exploration--a hundred years before Krafft-Ebing and Freud--of the psychology of sex, it is considered Sade's crowning achievement and the cornerstone of his thought. Lost after the storming of the Bastille in 1789, it was later retrieved but remained unpublished until 1904.   In addition to The 120 Days, this volume includes Sade's "Reflections on the Novel," his play Oxtiern, and his novella Ernestine. The selections are introduced by Simone de Beauvoir's landmark essay "Must We Burn Sade?" and Pierre Klossowski's provocative "Nature as Destructive Principle."   "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's last will and testament… (mer)
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I don't think it is possible to read these texts without finding many of them absurdly twee; and the '120 Days of Sodom' itself is relentless - to the extent that most of its final sections remain only in sketch form, a mere hint of what the Marquis must have had in mind. That is not important, because the real value of the work is not its pornographic content, but the insight it provides, from the underbelly of the Enlightenment, of an entirely alternative moral conceptualization of the world we live in: they may not do so very expertly, but these texts, in effect, are rather like an exploration of meta-ethics - in this respect they are very like the novels of Jean Genet. It is this aspect of de Sade's work which proved so interesting to some of his most thoughtful critics in the c20th (this volume is valuable not least for the introductory essay which it contains by Simone de Beauvoir) - and it would be a pity if we were to dismiss these texts as mere titillation and pornography rather than as a faltering exploration, as well, of the boundaries and nature of morality. ( )
3 rösta readawayjay | Sep 16, 2022 |
October 6th, 2023: Hey I am reading it again! I like the book a bit better now as a critique against The Enlightenment and French nobility. The book was written shortly before the French Revolution when Marquis de Sade was held a political prisoner in Bastille. Using Enlightenment principles, Sade creates a wickedly disturbing satire that shows the absolute worse these principles suggest.

- The main characters are against the puritanical notions of God, who's caricature instilled a makeshift body of laws. They believe it is nature that dictates a person, which leads one towards impulse.
- The criminal system functions like a secular form of God's will. But, through wealth, power, and cunning, one may escape the law and do what they will. It is these formidable individuals who deserve to do what they want. Those that lack initiative are weaker and deserve to be exploited.
- Vice must exist for virtue to exist, and we are born with these values in mind. This means that those who are overbearingly filled with vice are merely born into that by nature.
- Sexual gratification comes from knowing that we are doing something wrong. The more wrongful the act, the more exciting it becomes.
- The Messieurs issue statutes to organize their debauchery, and cajole their victims by saying compliance will promise no punishments. They're meant to be helpful guidelines but the rules are arbitrary and the whole situation's fucked.

Yep, I'm quitting again. I notice that I build sadistic heats of passion that eventually fizzles out around 100 pages in. It could be the writing too. As much as I loved hearing the libertine's justifications for their actions, the story is unfocused (probably because they're prison ramblings), which make those highlights few and far between.

Also, I don't believe wrongness makes sex better; it's dynamics. Sure, there'll be stigmas attached, but no one likes pedophillia, beastiality, or rape because it's evil and that turns them on. It's built from fucked-up childhoods that turn into fetishes: a peculiar dynamic.

January 14th, 2022 (Originally 2/5 Stars): I'll be honest, I didn't actually read the whole thing. I've made it to about page 70 and I'm pretty sure I know how the rest of the book's going to play out. Yes, I understand the context surrounding the novel, I know this was just one massive troll some sadomasochistic twat wrote in prison, and that I should come under that perspective to appreciate the work, but like, it's not fun; I'm not enjoying myself. While I like how the debauchery just gets more and more intense the further you go along, making you think, "Oh shit! What's going to happen next?" and while the storytellers were salaciously dark and amusing (if a little exhaustive), I'm not really one to say it's worth going through all 300 pages of it's sinful tales, especially if you don't like seeing people being so hopelessly deprived and abused for such an extended period of time. I'll probably keep reading it, on-again and off-again whenever I feel like hating myself, but it's not a book that I would say I look back fondly on or come back wishing to read more. ( )
  AvANvN | Apr 19, 2022 |
Absolutely the most obssessive & intense bk I've ever read. I got a hard-on from it at the same time that I was utterly horrified. De Sade knew what he was doing & was completely unrestrained. The main story here is about 4 bigwigs who kidnap a shitload of people, including kids, & then torture & sexually abuse them to death. Structurally, it's mostly a list of permutations on degradations &, as such, is a bit tedious as writing. But De Sade just lets it all hang out. If I remember correctly, this was written while he was imprisoned in the Bastille so I'm sure there was a whole lotta masturbating going on on his part while he was writing this. Writing it probably made him feel like he was destroying the world that imprisoned him.. wch, in a way, he might've been. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Only one essential is missing from our happiness--pleasure through comparison, a pleasure which can only be born from the sight of the unhappy, and we see none of that breed here It's at the sight of the man who isn't enjoying what I have and who is suffering that I know the charm of being able to say: I am happier than he is. Wherever men are equal and differences do not exist, happiness will never exist.

Following such ill-found advice I am left unable to rate or compare 120 Days of Sodom with anything. I support the publication of all ideas. That said, this is a vacuum, one absolutely bereft of pleasure or value. Steven Moore notes, "the 500 foam flecked pages that survive are admirable only for their balls-out daring." Reading this is the most uncomfortable experience. There is a philosophical undercurrent at play but one obscured by the buggery, shit-eating and torture. As noted in the introduction, the novel was written on a scroll while Sade was imprisoned and presumed lost in the storming of the Bastille. The project is only a third completed, the remaining sections exist only as notes punctuated by horribly explicit accounts. Based on the completed text, I think it fair to not shed any tears over the unwritten detail.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
“There are,” said Curval, “but two or three crimes to perform in this world, and they, once done, there’s no more to be said; all the rest is inferior, you cease any longer to feel. Ah, how many times, by God, have I not longed to be able to assail the sun, snatch it out of the universe, make a general darkness, or use that star to burn the world! oh, that would be a crime, oh yes, and not a little misdemeanor such as are all the ones we perform who are limited in a whole year’s time to metamorphosing a dozen creatures into lumps of clay.”


In forty-four years of existence, I’ve never read anything as unremittingly evil or as universally unforgiving as this dark tale penned by de Sade. I literally felt embarrassed to be a human. I still do. We’re not so great, most of us. And we’re downright evil, some of us. I find it hard to reconcile such brutality and pitilessness to anything remotely redemptive. This work is a dark mirror—an indictment against humanity and man’s paltry conception of god. If there were a god, how could he allow such atrocities to exist? If he’s too weak, then what is the point of a powerless god in the company of seemingly all-powerful men? And, seriously, how many months can you eat a steady diet of shit and not die of starvation or malnutrition or, at the very least, not come down with the flu? At least a cold sore. Does God get cold sores?

“Piety is indeed a true disease of the soul.”

Well, he surely gets cold feet—at least in this story. Doesn’t even bother to show up. The methodology of the narrative and of its main monsters which de Sade chooses to call “heroes” is stunning in its long view. There is more care and effort put into the nine pages of statutes than there is in the contemplation of any subject’s suffering. In fact, the Duc de Blangis speaks to the doomed assembly: “You are enclosed in an impregnable citadel; no one on earth knows you are here, you are beyond the reach of your friends, of your kin: insofar as the world is concerned, you are already dead, and if yet you breathe, ‘tis by our pleasure, and for it only.” How most of these unfortunates even made it to this demonic event are horror stories in and of themselves—how they must align themselves with the new horrific reality is a hell deeper and more fetid than any one of them could’ve possibly imagined. Nothing has prepared them for this. Nothing can prepare the reader for what will ensue. Libertinage is a word. Embuggering, too. So is depucelate. Each one of these can be understood intellectually. Not one of them has the disastrous ring in the context of this netherworld’s despair. Those words are like echoes of screams in the hallway. Those words may help describe the scene beyond the door, but they’ll ultimately fall flat like so much excised flesh discarded on the flagstones.

So much evil in so much painstaking detail. What a horrendous catalogue. An unending record of the worst possibilities that man can perpetrate against his own kind. Against his younger and weaker kind. Against the most defenseless, the most innocent, the most undeserving of brutal purpose.

Fortunately, the Grove Press edition has a bunch of other worthwhile material: essays by Simone de Beauvoir and Pierre Klossowski; de Sade’s “Reflections on the Novel” (an introductory text to his four-volume work: 𝘓𝘦𝘴 𝘊𝘳𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘥𝘦 𝘭’𝘈𝘮𝘰𝘶𝘳); Villeterque’s review of that work; de Sade’s own excoriating review of his contemporary’s review; a play and two short stories. His essays and stories show much more range than I would’ve thought possible if I’d only read 𝘛𝘩𝘦 120 𝘋𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘚𝘰𝘥𝘰𝘮. “Reflections on the Novel” is as brilliant and insightful as his critique of Villeterque is savage and incisive. I literally laughed out loud—which I sorely needed, after all that bloodletting and copraphagia and mutilation and nihilism and abject terror that absolutely engulfs the title work in this volume. Sodom. Jesus, no wonder Jehovah wiped out that city.

Evil. That word needs reclaimed. This book is the blueprint of just how it operates when unworried by intervention or recrimination. Who needs the supernatural, devils and wasting angels, when man can think up such horrors on his own?

“One must first have lost one’s mind to be able to acknowledge a god, and to have gone completely mad to worship such a thing.” ( )
1 rösta ToddSherman | Apr 23, 2018 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Marquis de Sadeprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
de Beauvoir, SimoneInledningmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Klossowski, PierreInledningmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Seaver, RichardÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Wainhouse, AustrynÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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The definitive compilation of texts from "a great, horrifying, but also vastly illuminating figure . . . one of the most radical minds in Western history" (Newsweek).   The Marquis de Sade, vilified by respectable society from his own time through ours, apotheosized by Apollinaire as "the freest spirit that has yet existed," wrote The 120 Days of Sodom while imprisoned in the Bastille. An exhaustive catalogue of sexual aberrations and the first systematic exploration--a hundred years before Krafft-Ebing and Freud--of the psychology of sex, it is considered Sade's crowning achievement and the cornerstone of his thought. Lost after the storming of the Bastille in 1789, it was later retrieved but remained unpublished until 1904.   In addition to The 120 Days, this volume includes Sade's "Reflections on the Novel," his play Oxtiern, and his novella Ernestine. The selections are introduced by Simone de Beauvoir's landmark essay "Must We Burn Sade?" and Pierre Klossowski's provocative "Nature as Destructive Principle."   "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's last will and testament

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