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‘The most impure tale ever written’: how The 120 Days of Sodom became a ‘classic’.
The 120 Days tells the tale of four libertines – a duke, a bishop, a judge and a banker – who lock themselves away in a castle in the Black Forest with an entourage that includes two harems of teenage boys and girls specially abducted for the occasion. Four ageing brothel madams are appointed as storytellers for each of the four months, and their brief is to weave a 150 “passions” or perversions into the story of their lives.
The libertines, surrounded by their victims, listen and enact the passions described, and as the passions become more brutal, so do the libertines: the novel builds to a violent climax with the “criminal” and “murderous” passions of Parts Three and Four. These are presented as long, numbered lists, interspersed with brief accounts of the scenes they inspire. Sade’s tortures range from the cartoonish (“He vigorously flattens a foot with a hammer”) to the clinical (“Her air supply is turned off and on at whim inside a pneumatic machine”); and from the surreal (“They make her swallow a serpent which in turn will devour her”) to the mundane (“He dislocates a wrist”). But the vast majority are simply too obscene and too violent to be quoted, as one nameless victim after another is subjected to increasingly elaborate and frenzied torments.
I was thinking that DeSade wanted to remark that human nature at its most base can be cruel and disgusting - and that is true - but I decided it was best not to read anymore of his works at that point. I have seen people do some pretty cruel things - and its horrific to think that some are so powerful that they can do such things and hide behind that power.
I am not for banning it - but declaring it a national treasure???
originally posted by: Cutepants
a reply to: MindBodySpiritComplex
The article's headline is a bit confusing. They aren't trying to celebrate the book, it's about the first manuscript written by de Sade, a physical object. It's very valuable and they wanted to stop it from leaving France and being bought by some private collector in Dubai or something. Declaring it a national treasure gives it (the old papers) a special legal status and ensures that it will stay in France, for future generations to look at it in a museum maybe, I guess.