Marquis de Sade
biography by Neil Schaeffer
|Home : Selected
|Works by the Marquis de Sade:
||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
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,
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.
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,
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:
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.
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,
Translated into English is the following significantly reduced version
of the original French edition:
Maurice Lever. Sade: A Biography. Translated Arthur Goldhammer. New
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
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.
Browse a list of books by and
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