Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings (1965) is a collection of writings by Marquis de Sade compiled and translated by Richard Seaver & Austryn Wainhouse with introductions by Jean Paulhan of L'Academie Française & Maurice Blanchot, published by Grove Press.

Amongst other things, the volume contains Philosophy in the Bedroom; Eugénie de Franval and Justine.

It also features a Marquis de Sade timeline.


The introduction[1]

Copyright © 1965 by Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, or the facilitation thereof, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Any members of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or publishers who would like to obtain permission to include the work in an anthology, should send their inquiries to Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.

an imprint of Grove/Atlantic, Inc. 841 Broadway New York, NY 10003

Distributed by Publishers Group West


The essay by Jean Paulhan, "The Marquis de Sade and His Accomplice," was originally published as a preface to the second edition of Les Infortunes de la Vertu published in 1946 by Les Editions du Point du Jour, copyright 1946 by Jean Paulhan. The essay was later reprinted, under the title "La Douteuse Justine ou les Revanches de la Vertu," as an introduction to the 1959 edition of Les Infortunes de la Vertu published by Jean-Jacques Pauvert. It is here reprinted by permission of the author. The essay "Sade" by Maurice Blanchot forms part of that author's volume entitled Lautreamont et Sade, copyright 1949 by Les Editions de Minuit, and is here reprinted by permission of the publisher. The editors wish to thank Grove Press, Inc. for permission to include certain information in the Chronology in the form of both entries and notes, taken from The Marquis de Sade, a Definitive Biography, by Gilbert Lely, copyright © 1961 by Elek Books Limited. This work is a one-volume abridgment of the two-volume La Vie du Marquis de Sade by the same author, to which the editors have referred in their Foreword, wherein further acknowledgments have also been made. Finally, the editors wish especially to thank Miss Marilynn Meeker for the meticulous job of editing, and for the number and diversity of her suggestions.



Publisher's Preface

Part One: Critical & Biographical

The Marquis de Sade and His Accomplice by Jean Paulhan, of l'Academie Francaise Sade by Maurice Blanchot Chronology

Seven Letters (1763-1790)

Note Concerning My Detention (1803)

Last Will and Testament (1806)

Part Two: Two Philosophical Dialogues

Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man (1782) Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795)

Part Three: Two Moral Tales

Eugenie de Franval (1788)

Justine, or Good Conduct Well Chastised (1791)



My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved. Do you suppose I care? A poor fool indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others! My manner of thinking stems straight from my considered reflections; it holds with my existence, with the way I am made. It is not in my power to alter it; and were it, I'd not do so. This manner of thinking you find fault with is my sole consolation in life; it alleviates all my sufferings in prison, it composes all my pleasures in the world outside, it is dearer to me than life itself. Not my manner of thinking but the manner of thinking of others has been the source of my unhappiness. The reasoning man who scorns the prejudices of simpletons necessarily becomes the enemy of simpletons; he must expect as much, and laugh at the inevitable. A traveler journeys along a fine road. It has been strewn with traps. He falls into one. Do you say it is the traveler's fault, or that of the scoundrel who lays the traps? If then, as you tell me, they are willing to restore my liberty if I am willing to pay for it by the sacrifice of my principles or my tastes, we may bid one another an eternal adieu, for rather than part with those, I would sacrifice a thousand lives and a thousand liberties, if I had them. These principles and these tastes, I am their fanatic adherent; and fanaticism in me is the product of the persecutions I have endured from my tyrants. The longer they continue their vexations, the deeper they root my principles in my heart, and I openly declare that no one need ever talk to me of liberty if it is offered to me only in return for their destruction.



That the Marquis de Sade also wrote books is a fact now known to almost everyone who reads. And knowledge of Sade as a writer ordinarily ends there. For of his immense and incomparable literary achievement, and of his capital importance in the history of ideas, hardly a suspicion has been conveyed by occasional collections of anodyne fragments culled from his writings or by more frequent and flagrantly spurious "adaptations." (Of the two, cheap-paperback pastiche and more tastefully contrived anthology of excerpts, the latter, equally meretricious, is hardly the less dishonest.) To date, this is Sade bibliography in the United States. To date, Sade remains an unknown author.

For this, censorship, Puritan morality, hypocrisy, and lack of cultivation may be blamed, although not very usefully, since Sade sought condemnation. Ultimately, the fault for it is all his own, and the fate of his books is his triumph. Strange? To be and to stay an unknown author, that has always been his status and his destiny, that was the status he coveted, that was the destiny he created for himself, not by accident or unwittingly, but deliberately and out of an uncommon perversity. To write, but to go unread— this has happened to many writers. To write endlessly and under the most unfavorable conditions and as though nothing mattered more than to write, but to write in such a way, at such length, upon such subjects, in such a manner and using such language as to render oneself unapproachable, "unpublishable," "unknown," and yet upon succeeding generations to exert the most intense and enduring influence— this, it will be admitted, is rare indeed.

Secrets cannot survive their disclosure; to bare Sade to the public would seem to be rendering him a disservice. Against this "betrayal"— a graver one by far than any accomplished by the obscure tradesmen who from time to time get out a child's version of Justine— Sade has a defense: it consists in maintaining the reader at a distance, not merely at arm's length but at a remove one is tempted to call absolute. Or, to put it more simply, in forcing every reader— every so-called reasonable reader— to reject him.

Thus, the present attempt— which is the first to be made in the United States— to provide the basis for a serious understanding of Sade is in a certain sense bound to fail. In this sense: the "reasonable" man (we repeat) can come to no understanding with this exceptional man who rejects everything by which and for which the former lives— laws, beliefs, duties, fears, God, country, family, fellows— everything and the human condition itself, and proposes instead a way of life which is the undoing of common sense and all its works, and which from the point of view of common sense resembles nothing so much as death; and which is, of course, impossible. Such must be the judgment of the "reasonable" man— of him who builds, saves, increases, continues, and thanks to whom the world goes round.

Even so, however firmly he be established in the normality that makes everyday life possible, still more firmly established in him and infinitely more deeply— in the farther reaches of his inalienable self, in his instincts, his dreams, his incoercible desires— the impossible dwells, a sovereign in hiding. What Sade has to say to us— and what we as normal social beings cannot heed or even hear— already exists within us, like a resonance, a forgotten truth, or like the divine promise whose fulfillment is finally the most solemn concern of our human existence.

Whether or not it is dangerous to read Sade is a question that easily becomes lost in a multitude of others and has never been settled except by those whose arguments are rooted

in the conviction that reading leads to trouble. So it does; so it must, for reading leads nowhere but to questions. If books are to be burned, Sade's certainly must be burned along with the rest. But if, ultimately, freedom has any meaning, any meaning profounder than the facile utterances that fill our speeches and litter the columns of our periodicals, then, we submit, they should not. At any rate, it is not our intention to enter any special plea for Sade. Nor to apologize for one of our civilization's treasures. Disinterred or left underground, Sade neither gains nor loses. While for us . . . the worst poverty may be said to consist in the ignorance of one's riches.

Great writing needs no justification, no complex exegesis: it is its own defense. Still, the special nature of Sade's work, the legend attached to his name, and the unusual length of time intervening between the writing and the present publication seemed to call for some introduction, both critical and biographical. Thus, Part One of the present volume aims at situating Sade in his times and among his familiars. For the brief biography in the form of a Chronology, the editors have relied primarily upon, and are indebted to, Maurice Heine's outline for a projected Life contained in Volume I of his CEuvres choisies et Pages Magistrales du Marquis de Sade. We also owe a particular debt to Gilbert Lely, Heine's close friend and heir to the great scholar's papers. The extent of both their contributions to the establishment of a valid Sade biography, and to a fuller understanding of both the man and his work, is detailed elsewhere.

Sade's letters are particularly revealing. We have included seven, ranging over an almost thirty-year period from the year of his marriage when he was twenty-three to the time of his release from the Monarchy's dungeons by the Revolutionary government, when he was over fifty. Letter I is from an unpublished manuscript, and is cited in Volume I of Lely's biography; Letters II, III, IV, and V are from L'Aigle Mademoiselle. . .; x Letters VI and VII are from Paul Bourdin's Correspondance.

We have included two exploratory essays on Sade. The first, by Jean Paulhan, was written in 1946 as the Preface for a second edition of Les Infortunes de la Vertu published that year. The second, by Maurice Blanchot, forms part of that author's volume entitled Lautreamont et Sade which was published by Les Editions de Minuit in 1949. They form part of a growing body of perceptive Sade criticism which has developed over the past two or three decades.

The "Note Concerning My Detention" was first published in Cahiers personnels (1803- 1804). Sade's "Last Will and Testament" has only recently been published in its entirety in French, 2 and is here offered in English for the first time.

If, through the material in Part One, we have tried to situate Sade, we have not attempted to conceal the singularity of his tastes or in any wise to depict him other than he was. He was a voluptuary, a libertine— let it not be forgotten that the latter term derives from the Latin liber: "free"— an exceptional man of exceptional penchants, passions, and ideas. But a monster? In his famous grande lettre to Madame de Sade, dated February 20, 1781, and written while he was a prisoner in the Bastille, Sade declares:

I am a libertine, but I am neither a criminal nor a murderer [italics Sade's], and since I am compelled to set my apology next to my vindication, I shall therefore say that it might well be possible that those who condemn me as unjustly as I have been might themselves be unable to offset their infamies by good works as clearly

established as those I can contrast to my errors. I am a libertine, but three families residing in your area have for five years lived off my charity, and I have saved them from the farthest depths of poverty. I am a libertine, but I have saved a deserter from death, a deserter abandoned by his entire regiment and by his colonel. I am a libertine, but at Evry, with your whole family looking on, I saved a child— at the risk of my life— who was on the verge of being crushed beneath the wheels of a runaway horse-drawn cart, by snatching the child from beneath it. I am a libertine, but I have never compromised my wife's health. Nor have I been guilty of the other kinds of libertinage so often fatal to children's fortunes: have I ruined them by gambling or by other expenses that might have deprived them of, or even by one day foreshortened, their inheritance? Have I managed my own fortune badly, as long as I had a say in the matter? In a word, did I in my youth herald a heart capable of the atrocities of which I today stand accused?. . . How therefore do you presume that, from so innocent a childhood and youth, I have suddenly arrived at the ultimate of premeditated horror? no, you do not believe it. And you who today tyrannize me so cruelly, you do not believe it either: your vengeance has beguiled your mind, you have proceeded blindly to tyrannize, but your heart knows mine, it judges it more fairly, and it knows full well it is innocent. 3

It was as a libertine that Sade first ran afoul of the authorities. It was society— a society Sade termed, not unjustly, as "thoroughly corrupted"— that feared a man so free it condemned him for half his adult life, and in so doing made of him a writer. If there is a disparity between the life and the writings, the society that immured him is to blame. With his usual perception about himself, Sade once noted in a letter to his wife that, had the authorities any insight, they would not have locked him up to plot and daydream and make philosophical disquisitions as wild and vengeful and absolute as any ever formulated; they would have set him free and surrounded him with a harem on whom to feast. But societies do not cater to strange tastes; they condemn them. Thus Sade became a writer.

In presenting Sade the writer, in Parts Two and Three of the present volume, we made a number of fundamental decisions at the outset. We first decided to include nothing but complete works. Otherwise, in our opinion, the endeavor was pointless. Further, as Sade was a writer both of works he acknowledged and works he disclaimed (and who is to say which of the two types most fairly represents him?) it seemed essential to offer examples of both sorts. Without which, again, the endeavor was pointless— and hypocritical. Finally, in making our selections we have obviously chosen works we believe represent him fairly and are among his best.

Part Two consists of two of his philosophical dialogues. The first, Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man, written in 1782 and until recently thought to be Sade's earliest literary effort, was not published until 1926. The present translation is from the original edition. The second, Philosophy in the Bedroom, was first published in 1795, not under Sade's name, or only by inference: it appeared simply as "by the Author of Justine." It is a major work, represents a not unfair example of the clandestine writings, and contains the justly famous philosophical-political tract, "Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans," which is as good, as reasonably concise a summation of his viewpoint as we have. It is a work of amazing vigor, imbued throughout with Sade's dark— but not bitter- humor, and creates a memorable cast of Sadean characters. Although Lely deems it the "least cruel" of his clandestine writings, Philosophy will reveal what all the clamor is about. The

translation is from the 1952 edition published by Jean-Jacques Pauvert.

Two of Sade's moral tales make up Part Three. Eugenie de Franval, which dates from 1788, is generally judged to be one of the two or three best novella-length works which Sade wrote and is, in the opinion of many, a minor masterpiece of eighteenth-century French literature. The translation is from the 1959 edition of Les Crimes de VAmour published by Jean-Jacques Pauvert. Finally, the inclusion of Justine, here presented for the first time in its complete form, was mandatory. It is Sade's most famous novel, although there are several more infamous. It is the work, too, which bridges the gap between the avowed and the clandestine, and is thus of special interest. For if it is true that, consciously or unconsciously, Sade was seeking condemnation, with Justine he was seeing to what lengths he could go and remain read. The translation is from the 1950 edition published by Le Soleil Noir, which contains a preface by Georges Bataille.

Each of the four works presented is directly preceded by a historical-bibliographical note which will, we trust, help situate it.

It is our hope that this volume will contribute to a better understanding of a man who has too long been steeped in shadow. If it does, it will be but slight retribution for the countless ignominies to which Sade was subjected during his long, tormented, and incredibly patient life, and during the century and a half since his death.

In his will, Sade ordered that acorns be strewn over his grave, "in order that, the spot become green again, and the copse grown back thick over it, the traces of my grave may disappear from the face of the earth, as I trust the memory of me shall fade out of the minds

of men " Of all Sade's prophecies small or splendid, this one, about himself, seems the

least likely to come true.


Publisher's Preface

Donatien-Alphonse-Francois de Sade, better known to history as the Marquis de Sade, has rarely, if ever, had a fair hearing. A good portion of his adult life was spent in the prisons and dungeons and asylums of the sundry French governments under which he lived— Monarchy, Republic, Consulate, and Empire. During his lifetime, or shortly after his death, most of his writings were destroyed either by acts of God or by acts of willful malice, not only by Sade's enemies but also by his friends and even his family— which was chiefly concerned with erasing his dark stain from its honored escutcheon. As recently as World War II, some of Sade's personal notebooks and correspondence, which had miraculously been preserved for over a century and a quarter, fell into the hands of the pillaging Germans and were lost, rendered unintelligible by exposure to the elements, or simply destroyed. Of Sade's creative work— excepting his letters and diaries— less than one fourth of what he wrote has come down to us.

"Come down to us" is hardly an apt description, for though this quarter has indeed survived, only a small fraction has ever been made public, at least until very recently. The aura of infamy about the author's name has been such that even the most innocent- meaning "relatively non-scandalous," for in Sade nothing is wholly innocent— of his works has often been proscribed by the censors or by acts of self-censorship on the part of scholars and publishers. Although he was far from forgotten throughout the nineteenth century— as Jean Paulhan notes in his now classic essay on Justine, Sade was read and consulted by many of the most significant writers of the preceding century— he was relegated and confined to a nether region, to a clandestinity from which, it seemed tacitly to be agreed, he should never emerge. If, as many, including the editors of the present volume, tend to believe, this scandalous neglect— or neglect due to scandal— was the fate to which Sade truly aspired, then the nineteenth century represents the zenith of his triumph, for it was the nadir of his influence. Dominated as it was in spirit by the plump, prim figure of Victoria Regina, this age would doubtless have echoed the lofty sentiments expressed by Charles Villiers, who issued the following exemplary challenge to his compatriots:

Let all decent and respectable people conspire together to destroy as many copies of Justine as they can lay their hands upon. For myself, I am going to purchase the three copies which are still at my booksellers and consign them to the fire. May my action serve as a general alarm. 1

As the century waned, however, a few influential voices were raised in dissent, not only refusing to share the prevailing opinion but daring to take issue with it. "It is necessary," wrote Baudelaire, "to keep coming back to Sade, again and again." Swinburne publicly acknowledged his debt to Sade:

I deplore with all my heart this incurable blindness, this reiterated, philistine stubbornness which yet holds you in the chains of the goddess Virtue and prevents you from appreciating the true worth of this Great Man to whom I am indebted (and what, indeed, do I not owe to him?) for whatever I have inadequately been able to express with regard to my sentiments toward God and man. I am compelled to

believe that God has hardened your heart; I can find no other explanation for your indifference to the singular but surprising merits of the Marquis.

He then went on to prophesy ecstatically:

The day and the century will come when statues will be erected to him in the walls of every city, and when at the base of every statue, sacrifices will be offered up unto him. 2

While that day, and that century, are not yet at hand, our own era has witnessed an evolution, if not a revolution, in the attitude of at least the more enlightened, regarding both the life and writings of the Marquis de Sade (for both have been condemned, and as the name of the author affects one's attitude toward the work, so the work affects and colors the legend of the life).

In 1909, the amazingly eclectic Guillaume Apollinaire, as a result of his research in the Enfer of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, published a selection of Sade's work and, in his Introduction, proclaimed him to be "the freest spirit that ever lived." In the ensuing half- century, an increasing number of voices were raised in Sade's behalf; writers and critics not only extolled him vaguely, but were reading him, examining his work as it had never been examined before. Among them were Andre Breton, Jean Paulhan, Maurice Blanchot, Pierre Klossowski, Simone de Beauvoir, and Maurice Nadeau, all of whom applied themselves diligently to discovering the secret of this extraordinary man, the likes of whom the world had never seen either before or since. However much these critics may differ as to their conclusions, they are all agreed on one fundamental point: Sade is a writer of the first importance, and one who must be taken seriously. As Maurice Blanchot aptly notes: It is not incredible to think that, in Sade, we have the most absolute writer who has ever lived, and, yet, for a century and a half, we have chosen to ignore him? And is not this choice voluntarily to ignore him, on the grounds that his work and doctrine are too somber, too anarchistic, too blasphemous, too erotic— the charges vary with the censor— both doubtful and dangerous, a choice on the side of darkness?

None of this serious criticism and intellectual speculation would have been possible, however, without the work, during the third and fourth decades of this century, of that exemplary Sade scholar, Maurice Heine. For fifteen years, with painstaking care, he sifted through the mountain of manuscripts entombed in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and in a dozen other libraries and museums throughout France, constantly revealing new material that had been believed lost, meticulously comparing various manuscripts and published versions and thus restoring to their pristine state works that had been truncated or emasculated. Thanks to him, during the ten-year span from 1926 to 1935, the following works of Sade were published:

Historiettes, Contes et fabliaux, in 1926;

Dialogue entre un pretre et un moribond, also in 1926;

Les Infortunes de la Vertu, being the original draft of Justine, in 1930;

Les 120 Journees de Sodome, ou VEcole du Libertinage, the "lost manuscript of the Bastille" miraculously recovered and finally published, in three volumes, from 1931 to 1935.

Since Heine's death in 1940, 3 his work has been carried on with equal devotion and unflagging enthusiasm by Gilbert Lely, who had first met the elder scholar in 1933, and from almost the moment of that first encounter took up the torch which he still bears today. 4 Lely's definitive, two-volume biography, La Vie du Marquis de Sade, was published by Librairie Gallimard in 1952 and 1957, and offers a more complete and detailed view of Sade than has ever before been available. Moreover, Lely's research led him to discover, in the Conde-en-Brie chateau of Count Xavier de Sade, an unhoped-for collection of previously unknown Sade material, including more than a hundred and fifty letters— most of which are addressed to the Marquis' wife— which the author wrote between 1777 and 1786, while he was a prisoner in Vincennes and the Bastille. To date, Lely has published ninety-one of these letters, in three different volumes; 5 they form a remarkable record of Sade's existence during this crucial and yet so productive period of his life and, together with the earlier correspondence, offer a formidable record of, and cast new light upon, this much maligned and misunderstood man.

To this constantly increasing store of newly discovered material has been added new editions, based on sound documentation, of Sade's major writings. In France, over the past fifteen years, a courageous young publisher, Jean-Jacques Pauvert, has systematically brought out the complete works of Sade, in twenty-seven volumes, prefaced by the most cogent of contemporary essays. More recently, in Scandinavia, integral editions of the major Sade writings have begun to appear, and in tiny Denmark a project similar to Pauvert's pioneering effort is underway.

In English, however, there is still precious little material available, and, as the editors have indicated, even that, at best, is in the form of largely innocuous fragments carefully culled so as not to offend; at worst, and this is a more recent development, totally spurious editions of Sade have appeared— what the editors have referred to as the "cheap-paperback pastiche"— baldly proclaiming to be complete. One can only lament that these gross misrepresentations may yet accomplish what all the censors and calumniators have thus far failed to do over the past two hundred years: these shoddy, and indeed execrable rehashes of his work may yet bury Sade.

We boast that we have shrugged off the hypocritic coils of Victorianism, that the last bastions of censorship are on the verge of falling, and yet Sade still remains locked in the library keeps of the world. "I address myself only to those persons capable of hearing me," Sade once remarked. To date we have never allowed his works to seek that audience of hardy "capables," preferring to judge and sentence them without a public hearing. Thus today we only know him by the words he contributed to the language: sadism, sadistic, sadist. But to know him and judge him by these epithets alone is to ignore what Sade is and means. He is, for example, much more than that shunned and restricted pillar of pornography on which his reputation rests, for it has been adequately demonstrated that nothing dates more quickly than real obscenity, in whatever sphere, and Sade has steadfastly refused to date or die. To endure, a writer cannot rely or base his work upon that dubious foundation, and those writers over the span of the past century who have been attacked as too coarse or too candid for public consumption and who have survived— Baudelaire, Flaubert, Zola among the late nineteenth-century French notables; Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, and Henry Miller more recently and in our own language— have survived precisely because of other qualities. So is it with Sade.

What is strange, and worth investigating, is how, given the neglect, the quasi-total

condemnation of his writings— how has Sade survived? What is there in his work that has caused it so to endure? Its eroticism? To be sure. Its shock qualities, based on a philosophy of negation which, as the editors note, no "reasonable man can understand, much less accept? No doubt. Its imaginative power, which is of such scope and magnitude as to create an entire universe, a self-contained world not of human comedy but of human (and super-human) tragedy, surreal rather than real, a writhing, insensate universe at the pole opposite Gethsemane and Golgotha? Yes, that too. And yet, to date, we have preferred to immure the man and ignore his writings, fearing his absolute vision.

To profit from that extraordinary vision, however, we do not have to subscribe to it. But if we ignore it, we do so at our own risk. For to ignore Sade is to choose not to know part of ourselves, that inviolable part which lurks within each of us and which, eluding the light of reason, can, we have learned in this century, establish absolute evil as a rule of conduct and threaten to destroy the world.

Now, twenty years after the end of the world's worst holocaust, after the burial of that master of applied evil, Adolph Hitler, we believe there is added reason to disinter Sade. For though his works speak for themselves and need no apology, they will also serve to remind us, in an age which legislates billions to construct bigger and better doomsday machines, bombs that can wipe out entire populations and missiles to deliver them with incredible swiftness and unerring aim, of the absolute evil of which man is capable. Surely, if we can accept to live with the daily specter of the absolute bomb, we can accept as well to live with the works of this possessed and exceptional man, who may be able to teach us a trifle more about ourselves.


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