De Sade and Latour fled to the estates of the king of Sardinia, who had them arrested. The Parlement at Aix sentenced them to death by default and, on September 12, , executed them in effigy.
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She became his accomplice and shared his pleasures, until the parents of the neighbourhood boys and girls he had abducted complained to the crown prosecutor. De Sade fled to Italy accompanied by his sister-in-law, the canoness de Launay, who had become his mistress. He returned to La Coste on November 4, One incident followed another in an atmosphere of continual scandal, and, on his return to Paris, the marquis was arrested and sent to the dungeon of Vincennes on February 13, Conditions in this prison were harsh. During his detention de Sade quarreled with his jailer, with the prison director, and with a fellow prisoner, Victor Riqueti, the marquis de Mirabeau, whom he had insulted.
He tried to incite the other prisoners to revolt. Visits from his wife, who was eventually allowed to see him, were banned after an episode in which he fell into a fit of jealous rage precipitated by his suspicion that she was about to leave him and was plotting against him. The marquise retired to a convent.
De Sade overcame his boredom and anger in prison by writing sexually graphic novels and plays. His letters to his lawyer as well as to his wife combine incisive wit with an implacable spirit of revolt. On February 27, , he was transferred to the Bastille in Paris. Though five of them were accepted, not all of them were performed. Separated from his wife, he lived now with a young actress, the widow Quesnet, and wrote his novels Justine, ou les malheurs de la vertu Justine; or, The Misfortunes of Virtue and Juliette.
In he became secretary of the Revolutionary Section of Les Piques in Paris, was one of the delegates appointed to visit hospitals in Paris, and wrote several patriotic addresses. He escaped the guillotine by chance the day before the Revolutionary leader Robespierre was overthrown. At the time he was living with the widow Quesnet in conditions of abject poverty. Again he was sent to Charenton, where he caused new scandals.
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His repeated protests had no effect on Napoleon, who saw to it personally that de Sade was deprived of all freedom of movement. Nevertheless, he succeeded in having his plays put on at Charenton, with the inmates themselves as the actors. After his death his elder son burned these writings, together with other manuscripts. His remains were scattered.
In the course of a life that scandalized his contemporaries, de Sade lived out many examples of the sexual compulsion on which his works centred. His writings were banned in France until the s. As an author, de Sade is to some an incarnation of absolute evil who advocates the unleashing of instincts even to the point of crime. Others have looked upon him as a champion of total liberation through the satisfaction of his desires in all forms.
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Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Sadism is often linked to masochism q. The sadist, however, often seeks a victim who is not…. It was not published until He wrote an early version of the work, entitled Les Infortunes de la vertu , while imprisoned in the Bastille in and completed the novel in while free. History at your fingertips.
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Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! He resumed writing and met fellow prisoner Comte de Mirabeau , who also wrote erotic works. Despite this common interest, the two came to dislike each other intensely. In , Vincennes was closed, and Sade was transferred to the Bastille. He was unable to finish the work; on 4 July , he was transferred "naked as a worm" to the insane asylum at Charenton near Paris, two days after he reportedly incited unrest outside the prison by shouting to the crowds gathered there, "They are killing the prisoners here!
The storming of the Bastille , a major event of the French Revolution , would occur ten days after Sade left, on 14 July. To his despair, he believed that the manuscript was destroyed in the storming of the Bastille, though it was actually saved by a man named Arnoux de Saint-Maximin two days before the Bastille was attacked. It is not known why Saint-Maximin chose to bring the manuscript to safety, nor indeed is anything else about him known. His wife obtained a divorce soon after. During Sade's time of freedom, beginning in , he published several of his books anonymously.
He met Marie-Constance Quesnet, a former actress with a six-year-old son, who had been abandoned by her husband. Constance and Sade would stay together for the rest of his life. He initially ingratiated himself with the new political situation after the revolution, supported the Republic,  called himself "Citizen Sade", and managed to obtain several official positions despite his aristocratic background.
Because of the damage done to his estate in Lacoste, which was sacked in by an angry mob, he moved to Paris. In , he was elected to the National Convention , where he represented the far left. He was a member of the Piques section , notorious for its radical views. He wrote several political pamphlets, in which he called for the implementation of direct vote. However, there is much evidence suggesting that he suffered abuse from his fellow revolutionaries due to his aristocratic background. Matters were not helped by his son's May desertion from the military, where he had been serving as a second lieutenant and the aide-de-camp to an important colonel, the Marquis de Toulengeon.
Sade was forced to disavow his son's desertion in order to save himself.
While claiming he was opposed to the Reign of Terror in , he wrote an admiring eulogy for Jean-Paul Marat. He was released in after the end of the Reign of Terror. In , Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the arrest of the anonymous author of Justine and Juliette. After intervention by his family, he was declared insane in and transferred once more to the Charenton Asylum.
His ex-wife and children had agreed to pay his pension there. Constance, pretending to be his relative, was allowed to live with him at Charenton. In , new police orders put Sade into solitary confinement and deprived him of pens and paper. In , the government ordered Coulmier to suspend all theatrical performances.
Sade began a sexual relationship with year-old Madeleine LeClerc, daughter of an employee at Charenton. This affair lasted some four years, until his death in These instructions were not followed; he was buried at Charenton. His skull was later removed from the grave for phrenological examination. Numerous writers and artists, especially those concerned with sexuality, have been both repelled and fascinated by Sade. He has garnered the title of rapist and pedophile , and critics have debated whether his work has any redeeming value.
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An article in The Independent , a British online newspaper , gives contrasting views: the French novelist Pierre Guyotat said, "Sade is, in a way, our Shakespeare. He has the same sense of tragedy, the same sweeping grandeur" while anarchist philosopher Michel Onfray said, "it is intellectually bizarre to make Sade a hero Even according to his most hero-worshipping biographers, this man was a sexual delinquent".
Geoffrey Gorer , an English anthropologist and author — , wrote one of the earliest books on Sade, entitled The Revolutionary Ideas of the Marquis de Sade in He pointed out that Sade was in complete opposition to contemporary philosophers for both his "complete and continual denial of the right to property" and for viewing the struggle in late 18th century French society as being not between "the Crown, the bourgeoisie , the aristocracy or the clergy, or sectional interests of any of these against one another", but rather all of these "more or less united against the proletariat.
Thus, Gorer argued, "he can with some justice be called the first reasoned socialist. Simone de Beauvoir in her essay Must we burn Sade? He has also been seen as a precursor of Sigmund Freud 's psychoanalysis in his focus on sexuality as a motive force. The surrealists admired him as one of their forerunners, and Guillaume Apollinaire famously called him "the freest spirit that has yet existed".
Pierre Klossowski , in his book Sade Mon Prochain "Sade My Neighbour" , analyzes Sade's philosophy as a precursor of nihilism , negating Christian values and the materialism of the Enlightenment. One of the essays in Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno 's Dialectic of Enlightenment is titled "Juliette, or Enlightenment and Morality" and interprets the ruthless and calculating behavior of Juliette as the embodiment of the philosophy of enlightenment.
Similarly, psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan posited in his essay "Kant avec Sade" that Sade's ethics was the complementary completion of the categorical imperative originally formulated by Immanuel Kant.