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The Marquis de Sade
A Life

The definitive biography by Neil Schaeffer

Home : The Prison Letters : Archive : March or April, 1779
Sade to his wife.
[March or April, 1779]

No, never will I forgive the villainy of having me rearrested... This is a horror without equal. To sacrifice a man, his reputation, his honor, his children, to the rage, to the vengeance, and to the avarice of those who wanted my return--who, aware of their motives, hid them from me so I would the more easily walk right into the trap--is an atrocity whose equal could not be found even among the most savage nations. And when I had the misfortune to fall once again into this frightful trap, to make me even more miserable than before, to confine me even more narrowly, to persecute me even more, to lie to me with even more impudence... These tactics make me shudder, and I cannot think of them with composure... Speak, indeed tell those who imagine they can correct men in this way, that they are utterly deceiving themselves: they are just embittering them and that's all. Persecutors male, persecutors female, tyrants, lackeys of tyrants, odious slaves to their own shameful vices, all of you, in short, whose only motive is vengeance or the hope of attaining rewards by basely serving the fury of those whose credit supports you or whose money feeds you--do you know to what I compare you? To that gang of naughty boys who, with sticks, go to goad the lion kept in an iron cage. They madden him through the iron bars, leaving the impression of the most vivid terror mixed with their teasing. If the beast had broken free, you would have seen all of them take to their heels, flinging themselves one on top of the other, and die of fright before being caught. That's you, my friends, that's you all over! Judge my feelings from this comparison, and from its justice, acknowledge your own infamy. [. . .]

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Sade was incarcerated for 14 years without trial before being freed by the French Revolution. In that time he wrote hundreds of letters to his wife. Receive a new letter every week never before translated into English. Click here to subscribe.

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