Biography of the Original Sadist the Marquis de Sade Part 2

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


The count, who always encouraged people to call him marquis, then embarked on a life of scandalous debauchery marked by habitual infidelity and sexual perversions. These included the notorious Rosa Keller affair, in which he whipped and tortured a Parisian prostitute, and what is sometimes called the Marseilles Scandal, an orgy in which he was accused of sodomy, torture, and poisoning participants with chocolate-covered bonbons containing powdered "Spanish fly." His mother-in-law, embittered about his treatment of her daughter, did her best to get him convicted on this last charge. De Sade had been in jail previously, but for the Marseilles scandal--and though the charges were ultimately proved untrue in great part--he was sentenced to death. He fled to Italy. On returning to Paris 3 years later, he found a none too comfortable jail cell waiting for him.

Though the authorities dropped the death penalty, De Sade from 1777 on would spend all but 13 of his remaining 27 years in prisons or in the lunatic asylum at Charenton. While imprisoned he began writing the novels and plays that gave his name to the language. The 120 Days of Sodom (1785), in which 600 variations of the sex instinct are listed. Justine, or Good Conduct Well Chastised (1790) and The Story of Juliette, or Vice Amply Rewarded (1792), are among his works replete with myriad descriptions of sexual cruelty. Never able or willing to reform, De Sade died in 1814, aged 74, while still at Charenton, where he wrote and directed fashinable plays performed by the inmates, many of whom he corrupted in the process. Sometimes his insights were deep and remarkable, but his was in the main the disordered, deranged mind reflected in his life and licentious work.

"Sadism," the derivation of satisfaction or pleasure from the infliction of pain on others, can be sexual in nature or stem from a variety of motives, including frustration or feelings of inferiority. De Sade's life indicates that many such causes molded his twisted personality. His final testament read in part: "The ground over my grave should be sprinkled with acorns so that all traces of my grave shall disappear so that, as I hope, this reminder of my existence may be wiped from the memory of mankind."

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