Marquis de Sade

French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher and writer of erotic works
(Redirected from Marquis De Sade)

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade (2 June 17402 December 1814), better known as the Marquis de Sade, was a French writer of philosophy-laden and often violent pornography, as well as some strictly philosophical works. He propounded a philosophy of extreme licentiousness, unrestrained by ethics, religion or law, with the egotistical pursuit of personal pleasure being the highest principle. Sade was incarcerated in various prisons and in an insane asylum for about 32 years of his life. Much of his writing was done while imprisoned. The term "sadism" is derived from his name.

De Sade, aged about 20 years old. This is the only known image of De Sade. It was painted by Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo
Depiction of the Marquis de Sade by H. Biberstein in L'Œuvre du marquis de Sade, Guillaume Apollinaire (Edit.), Bibliothèque des Curieux, Paris, 1912


  • Le duc imita bientôt avec Bande-au-ciel la petite infamie de son ancien ami et il paria, quoique le vit fût énorme, d'avaler trois bouteilles de vin de sens froid pendant qu'on l'enculerait.
    • The Duke soon imitated his old friend's little infamy and wagered that, enormous as Invictus' prick might be, he could calmly down three bottles of wine while lying embuggered upon it.
    • The First Day
  • Nos quatre libertins, à moitié ivres, mais résolus pourtant d'observer leurs lois, se contentèrent de baisers, d'attouchements, mais que leur tête libertine sut assaisonner de tous les raffinements de la débauche et de la lubricité.
    • Our four libertines, half-drunk but nonetheless resolved to abide their laws, contented themselves with kisses, fingerings, but their libertine intelligence knew how to season these mild activities with all the refinements of debauch and lubricity.
    • The First Day
  • Le duc, le vit en l'air, serrait Augustine de bien près; il braillait, il jurait, il déraisonnait, et la pauvre petite, toute tremblante, se reculait toujours, comme la colombe devant l'oiseau de proie qui la guette et qui est près d'en faire sa capture.
    • The Duc, pike aloft, closed in upon Augustine; he brayed, he swore, he waxed unreasonable, and the poor little thing, all atremble, retreated like a dove before the bird of prey ready to pounce upon it.
    • The Second Day
  • ...there is a sum of evil equal to the sum of good, the continuing equilibrium of the world requires that there be as many good people as wicked people...
  • Why do you complain of your fate when you could so easily change it?
  • Nothing we can do outrages Nature directly. Our acts of destruction give her new vigour and feed her energy, but none of our wreckings can weaken her power.
  • I think that if there were a God, there would be less evil on this earth. I believe that if evil exists here below, then either it was willed by God or it was beyond His powers to prevent it. Now I cannot bring myself to fear a God who is either spiteful or weak. I defy Him without fear and care not a fig for his thunderbolts.
  • Voluptuaries of all ages, of every sex, it is to you only that I offer this work; nourish yourselves upon its principles: they favor your passions, and these passions, whereof coldly insipid moralists put you in fear, are naught but the means Nature employs to bring man to the ends she prescribes to him; harken only to these delicious promptings, for no voice save that of the passions can conduct you to happiness.
    • To Libertines
  • Lewd women, let the voluptuous Saint-Ange be your model; after her example, be heedless of all that contradicts pleasure's divine laws, by which all her life she was enchained.
    • To Libertines
  • You young maidens, too long constrained by a fanciful Virtue's absurd and dangerous bonds and by those of a disgusting religion, imitate the fiery Eugénie; be as quick as she to destroy, to spurn all those ridiculous precepts inculcated in you by imbecile parents.
    • To Libertines
  • And you, amiable debauchees, you who since youth have known no limits but those of your desires and who have been governed by your caprices alone, study the cynical Dolmancé, proceed like him and go as far as he if you too would travel the length of those flowered ways your lechery prepares for you; in Dolmancé's academy be at last convinced it is only by exploring and enlarging the sphere of his tastes and whims, it is only by sacrificing everything to the senses' pleasure that this individual, who never asked to be cast into this universe of woe, that this poor creature who goes under the name of Man, may be able to sow a smattering of roses atop the thorny path of life.
    • To Libertines
  • The pleasures I tried to deny myself of assailed my mind all the more ardently; and I saw that if a person is born, like me, to debauchery, it is useless to apply restraints: fiery desires will soon shattter them. Ultimately, my dear, I'm an amphibious creature: I love everything, I enjoy everything, I want to try all kinds of pleasures.
    • First Dialogue, Madame de Saint-Ange
  • We must pity those who have such singular tastes, but never insult them: their lack is a lack in nature. They are no more the masters of arriving in this world with bizarre tastes that we are the masters of arriving bowlegged or shapely. Besides, is a man saying something disagreeable to you when he reveals his desire to enjoy you? Absolutely not! He's paying you a compliment!
    • First Dialogue, Chevalier
  • Modesty is an old-fashioned virtue, which, given your charms, you must certainly do without.
    • First Dialogue, Delmonce
  • A person must have lost his mind to believe in God. The product of either fear or weakness, this abominable phantom, Eugenie, is useless for the system of the earth, It would even be infallibly harmful. You see, its will, which must be just, could never ally itself with the injustice essential to the laws of nature. It would constantly have to wish for goodness, which nature desires only as compensation for the evil that serves its laws. It would have to act continuously, and nature, one of whose laws is that perpetual motion, could only rival and perpetually resist it.
    • First Dialogue, Delmonce
  • What do I see in the God of this infamous cult but a barbaric and inconsistent being, who creates a world one day, then repents its construction the next day? What do I see but a weak being who can never succeed in forming man according to his will? This creature, although deriving from hi, dominates him. And this creature can offend him, thereby deserving eternal tortures. What a weak being that God is!
    • First Dialogue, Delmonce
  • Benevolence is more a vice of pride than a true virtue of the soul.
    • First Dialogue, Delmonce
  • No desire can be termed outlandish, my dear; all desires can be found in nature. When nature created human beings, it delighted in differentiating their sexual leanings as much as their faces; and we should no more be astonished by the diversity of our features than by the diversity that nature has placed in our affections.
    • First Dialogue, Delmonce
  • What good are laws without a religion? We need a religion so distant to that of Rome that we can never return to the religion of Rome. In this century we are furthermore convinced that religion must be based on morality and not morality on religion. Hence we require a reliigion that is faithful to morals, that is virtually their further development, their necessary consequence, and that, in uplifting the soul, can perpetually keep it on the acme of that precious freedom which is now its unique idol.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • Oh, you, who are clutching the sickle, give the tree of superstition its final stroke. Do not be content with hacking off the branches. Tear out by its roots a plant with such noxious effects.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • Lycurgus, Numa, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad—all these great scoundrels, all these big despots of our ideas knew how to bond their concocted divinities with their immense ambitions. Certain of captivating nations with the sanction of their gods, these villains, as we know, took care either to question their deities at an appropriate moment or to have them answer only whatever they believed could serve their purpose.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • Survey the histories of all nations. You will never see them exchange their form of government for a monarchy, given their gradation by superstition; you will always see kings supporting religion, and religion supporting kings.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • The total annihilation of divine worship, which we are spreading through Europe. We should not be content with shattering scepters, we must smash idols forever. There has never been more than one step from superstition to royalism.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • All religions concur in exalting the deep-seated wisdom and power of a divinity, but once its conduct is exposed, we find nothing but imprudence, weakness, and folly. God, we are told, created the world for himself, but so far he has failed to have the world honored appropriately. God created us to worship him, and we spend our days mocking him! What a wretched God he is!
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • Never will a free man bow to the gods of Christianity; never will its dogmas, never will its rites, never its mysteries, never its morals be suitable for a republican.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • The philosopher must teach these pupils [French students] that it is far less essential to understand nature than to enjoy and respect its laws; that these laws are both wise and simple; that they are written in all human hearts, and that one need merely question a heart in order to appreciate its impulses.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • Let us leave off believing that religion can be useful to man. Instead, let us have good laws, and we can then do without religion.
  • The law which attempts a man's life [capital punishment] is impractical, unjust, inadmissible. It has never repressed crime—for a second crime is every day committed at the foot of the scaffold.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • You charming sex, you will be free; like men, you will enjoy all the delights that nature has made your obligations; you will not have to be constrained in any pleasure. Must the more divine section of humanity be clapped in irons by the less divine section? Ah, smash those chains—nature wants you to smash them! You should have no other limits than your leanings, no other laws than your cravings, no other morals than nature; stop languishing in those barbaric prejudices that caused your charms to fade and imprisoned the godly surges of your hearts.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • The road we have traveled after 1789 has been far more arduous than the road still lying ahead of us, and in regard to what I now propose, we do not need to affect public opinion anywhere as deeply as we have tormented it in every way since the storming of the Bastille. Believe me, a nation that was wise enough, courageous enough to conduct an insolent monarch from the pinnacle of his grandeurs to the feet of the scaffold; a nation that, within a few short years, has managed to vanquish so many prejudices, managed enough wisdom and courage to sacrifice for the good of the cause, for the prosperity of the republic, to immolate a phantom far more illusory than any king could ever be.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • All our ideas are representations of the objects that affect our senses; then what can be represented by the idea of God, which is obviously an idea without an object? Isn't such an idea, or will add, as impossible as effects without causes? Isn't an idea without a prototype anything but a chimera? Some Doctors of the Church, you will continue, assure us that the notion of God is innate, and that a man already has this notion in his mother's womb. But that is wrong, you will add; every principle is a judgement, every judgement is the result of experience, and experience can be gained only through the exercise of the senses. And it thereby follows that religious principles are obviously based on nothing and are not innate at all. How, you will go on, could anyone persuade rational beings that the hardest thing to grasp was the most essential thing for them? They were terrified; and when you are terrified, you are no longer rational. Above all, they were told to distrust their reasoning; and when the brains are muddled, you believe everything and examine nothing. Fear and ignorance, you will continue, are two mainstays of any and all religions.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • Let nobody doubt that religions are the cradles of despotism. The first of all despots was a priest; the first king and the first emperor of Rome, Numa and Augustus, both allied themselves with the priesthood; Constantine and Clovis were abbots rather than sovereigns; Heliopolis was the priest of the sun. In all times, in all centuries, despotism and religion have been so thoroughly interconnected that, as is easily demonstrated, in destroying one you undermine the other, for the profound reason that each will help the other to gain power.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • The first of these blessed charlatans to talk about God or religion will be condemned to being jeered at, scoffed at, covered with mud at all crossroads of the major French towns. If that scoundrel breaks that same law a second time, he will be locked away in an eternal prison. Let the most insulting blasphemies, the most atheistic writings be fully authorized, so that we may completely extirpate those horrifying toys of our childhoods from human hearts and memories. Let us hold a contest to find at last the text most capable of Enlightening Europeans about such a major subject; and let a substantial prize be established by the Nation as recompense for the man who, having said and proved everything about his theme, will leave his compatriots only a sickle to shatter all these phantoms and a straightforward heart to detest them.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • After demonstrating that theism is unsuitable for a republican government, I find it crucial to prove that French morals are likewise inappropriate.
    • Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans
  • No act of possession can be exercised on a free being; it is as unjust to own a wife monogamously as it is to own slaves. All men are born free, all are equal before the law; we must never lose sight of these principles. Hence, no sex is granted the legitimate right to seize the other sex exclusively, and never can any sex or any class possess the other arbitrarily.
    • The Verso Book of Dissent: From Spartacus to the Shoe-Thrower of Baghdadpp. 36
  • I am a libertine, but I am not a criminal nor a murderer, and since I am compelled to set my apology alongside 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 the 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 have 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 yet 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.
    • This passage comes from a letter addressed to his wife. It was written during his imprisonment at the Bastille.

Petition in Support of Temples to the Cult of Reason (1793)

  • The reign of philosophy has finally annihilated that of imposture. Man is finally becoming enlightened and, destroying with one hand the frivolous playthings of a divine religion it raises with the other an altar to the divinity dearest to its heart. Reason replaces Mary in our temples, and the incense that burned at the knees of an adulterous woman will only be lighted anew at the feet of the goddess who smashed our chains.

Quotes about Sade

  • (what did you think of de Sade at that age, and later?) I don't like him at all, and he has had no influence in my life. I have not ended up a sadist or a masochist for having read his books.
    • 1993 interview included in Conversations with Isabel Allende (1999) Translated from Spanish by Virginia Invernizzi
  • To sympathize with Sade is to betray him. For it is our misery, subjection, and death that he desires; and every time we side with a child whose throat has been slit by a sex maniac, we take a stand against him. Nor does he forbid us to defend ourselves. He allows that a father may revenge or prevent, even by murder, the rape of his child. What he demands is that, in the struggle between irreconcilable existences, each one engage himself concretely. He approves of the vendetta, but not of the courts. We may kill, but we may not judge.
  • Those leftists who champion Sade might do well to remember that prerevolutionary France was filled with starving people. The feudal system was both cruel and crude. The rights of the aristocracy to the labor and bodies of the poor were unchallenged and not challengeable. The tyranny of class was absolute. The poor sold what they could, including themselves, to survive. Sade learned and upheld the ethic of his class.
  • The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution-the revolution which lies beyond politics an economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology-are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf.
    • Aldous Huxley letter to George Orwell (October 1949) anthologized in More Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience edited by Shaun Usher (2015)
  • Sade has barely made a dent on American academic consciousness. It is his violence far more than his sex which is so hard for liberals to accept. For Sade, sex is violence. Violence is the authentic spirit of mother nature.
  • Simply follow nature, Rousseau declares. Sade, laughing grimly, agrees.
  • It may seem to be a long way from Blake's innocent talk of love and copulation to De Sade's need to inflict pain. And yet both are the outcome of a sexual mysticism that strives to transcend the everyday world. Simone de Beauvoir said penetratingly of De Sade's work that 'he is trying to communicate an experience whose distinguishing characteristic is, nevertheless its will to remain incommunicable'. De Sade's perversion may have sprung from his dislike of his mother or of other women, but its basis is a kind of distorted religious emotion.
  • This in turn suggests an answer to our question: what happened between the birth of De Sade and the birth of Krafft-Ebbing? The rise of the novel taught Europe to use its imagination. And when imagination was applied to sex, the result was the rise of pornography -- and of "sexual perversion."
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original works by or about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Social and political philosophers
Classic AristotleMarcus AureliusChanakyaCiceroConfuciusMozi LaoziMenciusMoziPlatoPlutarchPolybiusSeneca the YoungerSocratesSun TzuThucydidesXenophonXun Zi
Conservative de BenoistBolingbrokeBonaldBurkeBurnhamCarlyleColeridgeComteCortésDurkheimDávilaEvolaFichteFilmerGaltonGentileHegelHeideggerHerderHobbesHoppeHumede JouvenelJüngerKirkvon Kuehnelt-LeddihnLandde MaistreMansfieldMoscaOakeshottOrtegaParetoPetersonSantayanaSchmittScrutonSowellSpenglerStraussTaineTocqueville • VicoVoegelinWeaverYarvin
Liberal ArendtAronBastiatBeccariaBenthamBerlinBoétieCamusCondorcetConstantDworkinEmersonErasmusFranklinFukuyamaHayekJeffersonKantLockeMachiavelliMadisonMaineMillMiltonMenckenMisesMontaigneMontesquieuNietzscheNozickOrtegaPopperRandRawlsRothbardSadeSchillerSimmelSmithSpencerSpinozade StaëlStirnerThoreauTocquevilleTuckerVoltaireWeberWollstonecraft
Religious al-GhazaliAmbedkarAugustine of HippoAquinasAugustineAurobindoCalvinChestertonDanteDayanandaDostoyevskyEliadeGandhiGirardGregoryGuénonJesusJohn of SalisburyJungKierkegaardKołakowskiLewisLutherMaimonidesMalebrancheMaritainMoreMuhammadMüntzerNiebuhrOckhamOrigenPhiloPizanQutbRadhakrishnanShariatiSolzhenitsynTaylorTeilhard de ChardinTertullianTolstoyVivekanandaWeil
Socialist AdornoAflaqAgambenBadiouBakuninBaudrillardBaumanBernsteinButlerChomskyde BeauvoirDebordDeleuzeDeweyDu BoisEngelsFanonFoucaultFourierFrommGodwinGoldmanGramsciHabermasKropotkinLeninLondonLuxemburgMaoMarcuseMarxMazziniNegriOwenPaine RortyRousseauRussellSaint-SimonSartreSkinnerSorelTrotskyWalzerXiaopingŽižek