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The Marquis de Sade
A Life

The definitive biography by Neil Schaeffer

Home : Life & Times : The Works (1791 - 1803)
March 5, Sade's play The Suborner is booed off the stage by Jacobites in the audience.

August 10, attack on the Tuileries by anti-monarchists; the savage murder of Sade's relative and friend, Stanislas de Clermont-Tonnerre.

September 17, La Coste is sacked by rioters.

Sade sits on several committees for his section, for which he writes political reports and pamphlets.
January 21, Louis XVI is guillotined.

July 23, Sade is appointed president of his section, in which capacity he helps his in-laws, the hated Montreuils, escape punishment.

October 16, Marie-Antoinette is guillotined.

December 8, Sade is arrested "as suspect," and spends the next ten months during the Great Terror in various prisons until, finally, under sentence of death, he narrowly escapes the guillotine.

July 26, Sade is indicted, an occurrence tantamount to a death sentence.

July 27, Robespierre is overthrown and guillotined the next day, ending the Reign of Terror. Thus, Sade was spared.

October 15, Sade is finally released.

Hyper-inflation robs the rents from Sade's estates of their purchasing power. Most of Sade's correspondence consists of demands for more money from his lawyer and business agent in Provence, Gaufridy.

Sade publishes Aline and Valcour, his first publicly acknowledged novel. At the same time, he publishes clandestinely another novel, The Philosophy in the Bedroom.

October 13, in desperate need of money, Sade sells La Coste.
interior at La Coste 1798
July 31, Sade's financial crisis continues to worsen, and now he is without food. He warns Gaufridy: "if I do not receive any money here within a fortnight, I am determined to blow my brains out."

September, for financial reasons, Sade and Mme Quesnet are obliged to separate: she lives with friends, and Sade and son Charles subsist on handouts and on the former marquis' new job as the prompter at the theater at Versailles.

November 10, Napoleon Bonaparte comes to power in a coup.

December 13, Sade's play Oxtiern is performed in a theater at Versailles, even as he takes refuge in the poorhouse there.

Sade publishes a collection of his short stories, The Crimes of Love, starting a paper war in literary journals about this work and Sade's unacknowledged erotic novels.

March 6, Sade is arrested in the offices of his publisher, who had also brought out Sade's anonymously published ten-volume, illustrated erotic novels, La Nouvelle Justine and L'Histoire de Juliette. The police discover manuscripts and corrected pages in Sade's handwriting. After interrogation, he is sent to Sainte-Pélagie prison, where Mme Quesnet visits him regularly. This is an extra-legal incarceration; no charges were ever brought. Here begins his final detention, lasting almost 14 years.

May 20, Sade pleads with officials: "I want to be set free or tried."

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