Khomeini, Sade and Me  

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"I should like there to be perfect freedom to deride them all [all religions]; I should like men, gathered in no matter what temple to invoke the eternal who wears their image, to be seen as so many comics in a theater, at whose antics everyone may go to laugh. [...] I cannot repeat it to you too often: no more gods, Frenchmen, no more gods, lest under their fatal influence you wish to be plunged back into all the horrors of despotism; but it is only by jeering that you will destroy them; all the dangers they bring in their wake will instantly be revived en masse if you pamper or ascribe any consequence to them. Carried away by anger, you overthrow their idols? Not for a minute; have a bit of sport with them, and they will crumble to bits; once withered, the opinion will collapse of its own accord."--"Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans", 1795, Marquis de Sade

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Khomeini, Sade and Me (2014) is a book by Abnousse Shalmani. Its epigraph is taken from "Yet Another Effort" by Marquis de Sade.


Tehran, 1983. Six-year-old Abnousse Shalmani rebels for the first time against the Ayatollah Khomeini by running naked through the school playground. Frank, provocative, intelligent, and lively: this is a woman who refuses to be veiled or silenced. Leaving Iran is the only option for her family: but once in exile, she soon discovers that Paris has its very own ‘Beards’ and ‘Crows’ to deal with. Following the publication of Salman Rushdie´s Satanic Verses the veil is at the centre of all debates. Reading is her rebellion, and as she grows up, she ardently pursues her freedom through French literature, empowered by the writings of the Marquis de Sade. Freedom comes with recognising the power of the written word. From Colette to Victor Hugo, from Simone de Beauvoir to Pierre Louÿs, this is an extraordinary book about books, a story of resistance to oppression, and a passionate call for the right to sexual and intellectual freedom.

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