a reply to: MindBodySpiritComplex
I look at it from the perspective of a fellow who comes from a nation whose history contains examples of lecherous, murderous, vile individuals, like
King John, for example, well known for his utterly despicable behaviour. He forced himself on the wives and daughters of members of his court, nobles
and the like. He would have captured enemy knights starved to death, as well as political opponents, merely thrown in a cage and left to wither and
eventually die a most painful, horrible death.
To imagine that he was the only rotter in his era though, would be in error. He is merely the most well known, the most talked about outside of
academic circles. I remember talking about him with my mother when I was but a boy, and neither of us were or are academics in the field of history.
So he is another example of a person who has come to popular awareness, for behaviour which, its sad to say, was not unique to him in that era.
However, little is written of the affairs of common folk in that period, amongst whom there were, as there are today, pockets of sickness and
depravity, great barbarism.
The reason I mention this, is that the Marquis de Sade was not a particularly unique character either. However, as a novelist of sorts, and a well
known figure of both the aristocracy, and paradoxically, the revolution, he was notorious for things which other nobles kept hidden from view, and his
exploits, and the internal workings of his mind, are more readily viewed and examined than are the exploits and thought processes of other nobles of
his period. Indeed, he was far from the sickest and most depraved of the French nobility.
Indeed, records of frankly appalling savagery in France can be found close at hand to the person of Joan of Arc of all people. One of her companions
at arms, Gilles de Rais, was a serial murderer of children, a barbaric, sick individual whose violence toward the defenceless marked him out as
something altogether evil. No doubt Joan of Arc would have been appalled to learn of this, but was burned at the stake some nine years previously.
And barbarism and extreme sexual deviancy was not limited to the aristocracy of France either. During the revolution, the revolutionaries fought
loyalists for control of all of France, leading to battles in which, when facing regular folk loyal to the crown, they would not only destroy the
opposing force, but enter the towns and villages supporting the opposition, and commit acts of total depravity against them including, but not limited
1) Dragging the womenfolk from their homes, and raping then murdering, or murdering then violating them
2) Opening the bellies of pregnant loyalist women, dissecting the fetus before them, and leaving the mother to bleed to death amongst the scattered
parts of her dead progeny
3) Tying men and women together naked, then throwing them alive into rivers and lakes, there to drown, their bonds making escape from drowning death
4) Decapitating victims of both sexes, then posing their bodies in parody of sex acts.
I point out these things not to be obnoxious or to shock, but to make something clear. If you look at the history of France during the period of de
Sades life, and compare the sheer, total violence and sadism that was ACTUALLY engaged in, not just written of in a work of fiction, but actually
occurring in the country during his life, you will understand that although he was far from a perfect man, and surely, he was far from perfect, he was
an absolute pussycat when compared to many of his contemporaries. Where he wrote works of fiction, sometimes sacrificing blood, stool or other bodily
ejections for use as ink, others of his period and before, were involved in far more objectionable, disgusting, and barbaric activities. Indeed, it is
the nature of the culture which existed prior to and during the revolution in France, for those in power to dominate with a totalitarian approach,
those over whom they had a measure of power, hence the debauchery of the aristocracy prior, and the inhuman behaviour of the revolutionaries during
the revolution itself.
I speak not in defence of the man, you understand. I just think you have a somewhat unrealistic view of what his works represent, or say about the
fellow, when you consider the totality of what he, and indeed all of French culture at the time, was surrounded with, and engaged in. Its perfectly
possible that a fair examination of the periods concerned, would show him to actually be a rather more reasonable figure than a great many of his