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When translating The Days of Sodom, we had a duty to be just as rude, crude, and revolting as Sade. It tells the story of four libertines — a duke, a bishop, a judge and a banker — who lock themselves away in a castle with an entourage that includes two harems of teenage boys and girls. The libertines enact the passions they hear described, and as these become more violent, the narrative builds to a murderous climax. Though Sade never finished his novel, and the last three parts are in note form only, it remains a uniquely disturbing work. And therefore uniquely challenging to translate. Perhaps this was the reason no one had attempted a new translation since the one first published by Austryn Wainhouse in and revised with Richard Seaver in In any case, Thomas Wynn and I felt a new version was long overdue, and, much to our surprise, Penguin Classics agreed.
To read the Marquis de Sade is disorienting, intimidating, exciting, frightening and ultimately exhilirating. Philosophy in the Bedroom is pillow-talk like you've never heard it before, an alternation of philosophical discourse and ecstatic grunting. It also contains the famous speech "Encore un effort," which advocates murder, heresy, promiscuity, etc. This is the first biography of the Marquis de Sade, published in and written by the German specialist in sexual disorders who later discovered the manuscript of Days of Sodom. Although not as sophisticated as more recent biographies, it contains a wealth of weird sexual data on Sade and his times. Retaliation is a humorous short story of infidelity, anti-clericalism, and revenge. It's good to read as a reminder that Sade had a great sense of humor, something not always obvious to readers of his more notorious tomes.
Justine or The Misfortunes of Virtue is set just before the French Revolution in France and tells the story of a young woman who goes under the name of Therese. Her story is recounted to Madame de Lorsagne while defending herself for her crimes, en route to punishment and death. She explains the series of misfortunes which have led her to be in her present situation. O thou my friend! The prosperity of Crime is like unto the lightning, whose traitorous brilliancies embellish the atmosphere but for an instant, in order to hurl into death's very depths the luckless one they have dazzled. Yes, Constance, it is to thee I address this work; at once the example and honor of thy sex, with a spirit of profoundest sensibility combining the most judicious and the most enlightened of minds, thou art she to whom I confide my book, which will acquaint thee with the sweetness of the tears Virtue sore beset doth shed and doth cause to flow. Detesting the sophistries of libertinage and of irreligion, in word and deed combating them unwearingly, I fear not that those necessitated by the order of personages appearing in these Memoirs will put thee in any peril; the cynicism remarkable in certain portraits they were softened as much as ever they could be is no more apt to frighten thee; for it is only Vice that trembles when Vice is found out, and cries scandal immediately it is attacked.
Free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook. Justine (or The Misfortunes of Virtue) is set just before the French Revolution in France and tells the story of a young woman.
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