Life and Times
youth: 1740 - 1762
marriage: 1763 - 1771
prison: 1772 - 1790
the works: 1791 - 1803
asylum: 1804 - 1814
Prison Letters
sample letters
About Neil Schaeffer

Buy Sade: A Life at amazon.com
Buy the Book!

The Marquis de Sade
A Life

The definitive biography by Neil Schaeffer

Home : Prison Letters : Archive

Join the Sade Squad, a yahoogroups email list.

From this week's letter:
This is what you've been waiting for: Sade's Grande Lettre, a very long justification of his innocence in all of the scandals that led to his imprisonment.
February, 1781

Do you understand, my dear friend? You will reread it and you will see that the one who will love you until his death wanted to sign it with his blood.
cell window at vincennes
Click dates for complete letters. [reverse chronological order]
  • February, 1781
    Sade's Grande Lettre, a very long justification of his innocence in all of the scandals that led to his imprisonment. You will reread it and you will see that the one who will love you until his death wanted to sign it with his blood.
  • February, 1781
    Mme. Sade to her husband
    ...There are some people whom you think badly of because you do not know them, and when you will know them, you will fall into agreement with me that they do not deserve and that they did nothing to suffer your ill-placed sarcasms.
  • December, 1780
    There you have, Madame, a sample of your abominable lies. In vain will you fall back on the notion that others have deceived you. Either you should have said nothing, or you should have spoken only what you are sure of. In short, you are an imbecile to allow yourself to be led about by the tip of your nose, and those who lead you are monsters who deserve the gallows, and, which is better, to be hanged there until the crows devour them.
  • September, 1780
    There is nothing in the universe that concerns me or interests me like my release from this abominable place where men are treated like wild beasts and, which is worse, by their fellow men....
  • September 17, 1780
    Sade to his wife
    In writing these things to you, I repeat them and I swear and assert on all I hold most sacred that, were they to disembowel me alive, I will never in the least depart from my maxim: gentle and decent when they treat me so; extremely harsh and extremely critical when they fail....
  • July 27, 1780
    Sade to his wife
    It is only those who are favored by fortune who regret leaving this life; but those who, like me, count their years only by their misfortunes, do not have cause to look upon the moment of annihilation except as the happy occasion of the breaking of their chains....
  • April 16, 1780
    Mme de Sade to her husband.
    Here you have, my dear love, the bound notebook; it is not my fault that you only have it today: it was to be brought home by an imbecile whom it is pointless to name because you know it already yourself [i.e., Paul Lefèvre, one of Mme de Sade's servants in Paris, and the object of Sade's increasingly violent jealousy]....
  • January, 1780
    Sade to his valet.
    One may criticize the government, the king, religion: nothing to worry about. But a whore, Monsieur Quiros, Gadzooks! you'd better take care to give no offence to a whore...
  • December 2, 1779
    Sade to his wife.
    Yes, Madame, I am suffering, and, what is worse, more and more every day.
  • November 1, 1779
    Sade to his wife.
    If only I could be freed the shortest way from all my sorrows! But if anything in the world could make me regret dying, God is my witness that it would only be the disappointment of not seeing this witch [Sade's mother-in-law] sink into the grave before me....
  • October 4, 1779
    Sade to La Jeunesse
    Do try . . . try and keep your trap shut, I beg of you, because I am weary of being insulted for so long by the rabble. It is true that I act like a bulldog, and when I see all that pack of curs and bitches yelping around me, I just lift a leg and I piss on their noses. . .
  • September 9, 1779
    From Mme de Sade to her husband
    Have you been unhappy with what I have sent? Is it that you do not want anything for the next fortnight? If you do not ask me for anything between now and then, I will not bother looking for anything, out of fear of making you angry, but your aloofness and your silence kill me....
  • August, 1779
    To his wife
    If they who read my letter are angered by it, so much the worse for them . . . They are amusing themselves today after their fashion, they are having fun by preventing me from amusing myself; it is only fair that I should have my turn, and my pen will be my weapon /as long as fate does not furnish me with others/.
  • July, 1779
    To his wife
    I do not have additional promenades, nor my room changed, nor the servant at dinner. That just proves how much you care about what I need, and how little pity you have for my state!
  • May, 1779
    To Mlle de Rousset
    ...The first is to tell you that if you leave before I am free, /I will never see you again for the rest of my life/. The second is to examine your grievances so that you will not go away with the impression of me as a false and irrational man, a lying slanderer whom misery has embittered to the point of making misanthropic....
  • May 12, 1779
    To Mlle de Rousset
    Is it only now that you discover that people fear intelligence?... Nothing can make you more enemies, and the reason is simple. With intelligence you more readily recognize the ridiculous, with intelligence you cannot stop yourself from laughing at it...
  • April, 1779
    To Mlle Rousset
    My little beast, like a new Don Quixote, I will go to break my lances at the four corners of the world to prove that my little beast is, of all the little female beasts breathing between the two poles, she who writes the best and who is the most lovable.
  • March or April, 1779
    To his wife
    ..[A]ll 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?
  • March 22, 1779
    To his wife
    ...I experience this quite extraordinary sensation that I have never come across before. I would like some eminent psychologist to explain it to me...
  • July 1777
    To his wife
    Good God, what is going to become of me? By their dreadful conduct, do they now want to bury me here for life?
  • February 1777
    To Mme de Montreuil
    Of all the paths that vengeance and cruelty could have chosen, admit, Madame, that you have indeed taken the most ghastly of all...
    Sade's first letter written from the royal prison of Vincennes upbraids his mother-in-law for orchestrating his capture.

E-mails from prison!
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. Check back here to read a new letter.

Home | Life & Times | Prison Letters | Bibliography | About Neil Schaeffer