For centuries, the Marquis de Sade’s blasphemous works, full of detailed and elaboration of sordid sexual perversions, were dismissed as the ravings of a rotten and corrupt mind. His life was a never-ending scandal, and now his name is immortalized as sadism – the compulsion to achieve sexual satisfaction by inflicting pain on others.
His final request was that “all traces of my grave disappear from the face of the earth, as I flatter myself that my memory will be effaced from the minds of men.” While the location of his grave remains unknown, his memory not only survives but thrives.
The importance of de Sade’s ideas have placed him in the ranks of such thinkers as Nietzsche and Freud. He is now considered as one of the first truly avant-garde writers, an enfant terrible who laid bare the capricious and ultimately dehumanizing ethical constraints imposed by an abnormal Western morality. To minimize man’s suffering, de Sade championed the total freedom of instincts and inhibitions. Man is a beast who delight in cruelty and finds brutality amusing.
To deny expression of sexual abnormality and criminality is in complete opposition to his natural impulses and thus severely mangle his character. Only a complete knowledge of perversion will permit us to establish genuine relationships with one another and with nature.
Although his ideas were the fruit of Enlightenment rationality, de Sade was ahead of his time. His contemporaries demanded a harsh penalty for his moral insurrection and call for authenticity – over 30 years of his life were spent in various penitentiaries and mental institutions.