I read the entire 120 Days Of Sodom by de Sade in two days. I came across it in my cousin’s attic, wiped off the dust and engrossed myself in the most despicable, most disgusting piece of literature I have ever seen, never for a moment tearing my eyes off the page, pausing only for cups of tea and cigarettes. I did not sleep all that weekend, surrounded by the dusky grime and darkness of the upstairs loft — a fitting scene in which to read such a work.
The Marquis de Sade, or Comte Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade was born on June 2, 1740 in Paris, France. His work was banned for many years but had an influence on many modern works and Surrealist art. His real life was as terrible and sadistic as the lives he wrote about. He was imprisoned many times for gross sexual acts, one time for masturbating with crucifixes whilst screaming obscenities and for whipping and raping a canoness.
120 Days Of Sodom is a story of four libertines who imprison a selection of whores, young girls and boys and their own wives and perform hideous sexual acts on them. (The word sadism comes from de Sade’s name.) The book is divided into day-by-day chapters, each day bringing more grotesque crimes, spurred on by the stories of an old prostitute. The Marquis wrote this book in his last few years of life in a mental asylum on a 45 foot scroll that was carefully hidden inside the tube of a bedpost and was not rediscovered until 1904. Although the book gave me a sick feeling in my stomach and brought the taste of bile into my throat, I could not be torn away from it, my curiosity overcame my disgust and even at times overcame my feelings of contempt for the author. But that is another thing, for even though it is hateful and extreme, one feels one must fight all these feelings and pursue this original work to the end. If you can’t read de Sade to the end, you lose. Though, somehow, even if you do read de Sade to the end, you still lose.
Amazingly, de Sade has such a philosophical view of these libertines that all questions of morality and the corruptness of religion are challenging and sometimes have a real truth. Despite the usually monotonous dialogue, the constant depictions of “frigging” and the gratuitous language, one must be stronger than the author, reading until the ending, fighting his ‘low’ art and emerge feeling more pure and unaffected than before, with a just, analytical viewpoint.
Is de Sade really the anti-Christ? I suggest you pick up one his books and experience the constant flux of emotions it brings and make up your own opinion. “Plaisir a tout prix “: pleasure at any price.