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The Marquis de Sade
A Life

The definitive biography by Neil Schaeffer

Home : Selected Bibliography
Works by the Marquis de Sade:
Sade portrait Translations into English:

The two large volumes of translations by Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse are excellent. Readers should begin with Sade's best and most challenging work, The 120 Days of Sodom.

The Complete Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings. Translated by Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse. New York: Grove Press, 1965.

The Gothic Tales / Marquis de Sade. Translated by Margaret Crosland. London: Peter Owen, 1990.

The Marquis de Sade: The 120 Days of Sodom, and Other Writings. Translated by Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse. New York: Grove Press, 1966.

The Passionate Philosopher: A Marquis de Sade Reader. Translated by Margaret Crosland. London: Peter Owen, 1991.

The Plays of the Marquis de Sade. Translated and edited by John Franceschina and Ben Ohmart. 2 vols. Durango, Colorado, 1993.

Sade's works in French editions:
Most convenient is the following complete edition (including his novels, short stories, plays, essays, journals, notebooks, etc.):
Oeuvres complètes du marquis de Sade. Edited by Annie Le Brun and Jean-Jacques Pauvert. 15 vols. Paris, 1986-91.

The first complete and historically valuable edition was that established by Gilbert Lely: Oeuvres complètes. Edited by Gilbert Lely. 16 vols. Paris, 1966-67.

family crest
Sade's correspondence:

Alice Laborde, the indefatigable Sade scholar, had been regularly adding to her massive edition of Sade's letters and significant documents. Her excellent and judicious intertextual notes make her edition both enjoyable to read and indispensable:
Correspondances du marquis de Sade et de ses proches enrichies de documents, notes et commentaires. Edited by Alice M. Laborde. 27 vols. to date. Genève, 1991-.

A more specialized aspect of Sade's correspondence relates to the letters Paul Bourdin published from Sade's letters left among the papers of his Provence lawyer, Gaufridy. To read these letters is to see that Sade's demands for money from his lawyer, his flattery, his whining, his crooning, his threats, his irrational expectations all constitute a kind of sexualized power struggle very much like that of his fictional perverts and their victims:
Correspondance inédite du marquis de Sade, de ses proches et de ses familiers. Edited by Paul Bourdin. Paris, 1929.

The first large collection of Sade's letters is still valuable: Lettres et mélanges littéraires. Edited by Georges Daumas and Gilbert Lely. 3 vols. in 1. Paris: 1980.

Additional important letters are to be found in the following editions:
Vol. XII of Oeuvres complètes, edited by Gilbert Lely and cited above. Cahiers personnels (1803-1804). Edited by Gilbert Lely. Paris, 1953.
For details of Sade's final incarceration at Charenton and for his Journal written there
Journal inédit. Edited by Georges Daumas. Paris, 1970.

Biographies of Sade:

In English:
I may be forgiven for favoring my own biography. I believe that I have gone most deeply into Sade's precarious purchase between his idealism and his cynicism. I have also discovered important meanings in Sade's hitherto private and paranoid code language, revealing a logic behind his mad ramblings not before understood. Moreover, I have gone much further into appreciating his meaning as a writer, especially in his masterpiece, The 120 Days of Sodom.

Neil Schaeffer. The Marquis de Sade: A Life. New York: Knopf, 1999. Francine du Plessix Gray. At Home with the Marquis de Sade: A Life. New York, 1998.

Sade biographer Neil Schaeffer
author photo: Jerry Bauer

An interesting collection of biographical essays, rather than a full biography, is the following:
Laurence L. Bongie. Sade: A Biographical Essay. Chicago, 1998.

The following is derivative and worthless:
Donald Thomas. The Marquis de Sade. London, 1976. Reissued, London, 1992.

Translated into English is the following significantly reduced version of the original French edition:
Maurice Lever. Sade: A Biography. Translated Arthur Goldhammer. New York, 1994.

In French:
Every biographer owes an enormous debt to Sade's first scholarly biographer, Gilbert Lely, whose massive work appears in volumes 1 and 2 of the Oeuvres complètes, cited above.

In addition, readers should look at Heine's important scholarship:
Maurice Heine. Le Marquis de Sade. Edited by Gilbert Lely. Paris, 1950.

Sade's most recent French biographers have made valuable contributions:
Maurice Lever. Donatien Alphonse François, marquis de Sade. Paris, 1991. Jean-Jacques Pauvert. Sade vivant. 3 vols. Paris, 1986-90.

Important Books about Sade in English or in translation:
Barthes, Roland. Sade, Fourier, Loyola. Translated Richard Miller. New York, 1976.

Bataille, Georges. Literature and Evil. Translated Alastair Hamilton. New York, 1985.

Beauvoir, Simone. Faut-il brûler Sade? Translated as The Marquis de Sade: An Essay. New York, 1953.

Carter, Angela. The Sadeian Woman and the Ideology of Pornography. New York, 1979.

Klossowski, Paul. Sade, mon prochain. Translated Alphonso Lingis. Evanston, IL, 1991.

The following work is very suggestive, portraying Sade as a visionary, especially useful for psychotherapists: "Sade extends psychological space. . . A Sadeian element in therapy gives place to shadow without whitewashing it. Sade's fiction can be a guidebook for the therapist, helping establish an appreciation for shadow and for underworld":
Moore, Thomas. Dark Eros: The Imagination of Sadism. Dallas, 1990.

In the following popular and influential book, Camille Paglia displays considerable respect for and understanding of Sade:
Paglia, Camille. Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. New Haven, 1990.

The following psychoanalytic work is fascinating reading and frequently cites and interprets Sade:
Chasseguet-Smirgel, Janine. Creativity and Perversion. New York, 1984.

Sade contemplates the beauty of flowers in a gutter

Browse a list of books by and about the
Marquis de sade at amazon.com.

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