Biography of the Original Sadist the Marquis de Sade Part 1

About the original sadist the Marquis de Sade, biography and history of the sexual playboy.


SADISM ('sa-diz-em) n. 1. A sexual perversion in which gratification is obtained by the infliction of physical or mental pain on others (as upon a love object). 2. A delight in cruelty.

Physically, at least, Count Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade seems to have been one of the beautiful people, a handsome little man--5'2", eyes of blue, but oh what those 5' could do, as a masochist might describe him. Actually, various descriptions of the miniature aristocrat exist. One writer gives him "blue eyes and blond well-kept hair," another "a delicate pale face from which 2 great black eyes glared," a 3rd tells us that he was "of such startling beauty that even in his early youth all the ladies that saw him stood stock still in rapt admiration." Unfortunately, there is no authentic portrait of De Sade, but one might expect the probable descendant of the Laura made famous in Petrarch's immortal love poems 4 centuries before to present a striking appearance. In any case, this scion of high nobility was reared by his grandmother and his uncle, a literary man who prepared him for the College Louis le Grand, which numbered among its other notable graduates that one-man Gestapo, Maximilien de Robespierre. School was followed by considerable active service in the Army, beginning when he was only 14, and from there De Sade seems to have emerged a full-blown "fanatic of vice," the Philosopher of Vice and professeur de crime that Michelet and Taine called him.

When it happened, how it happened, would stymie a panel composed of Freud, Jung, Job, and the living Buddha. De Sade's upbringing was a factor, as were the licentious times in which he lived, his long years in prison, and perhaps there was even an organic problem. There is simply not enough reliable information available about De Sade--all his voluminous diaries were burned--and to try and make biography from a writer's fiction is fruitless. We know that De Sade married Renee-Pelagie de Montreuil for her money, trading his title for her half-million-dollar dowry.

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