"my Marquis had been married before"


The year before Carter published 'The Bloody Chamber', she wrote 'The Sadeian Woman', a thesis which re-appraised the writings of the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) from a feminist viewpoint.  Many academics have discussed the links between the two texts, and it has often been argued that de Sade provided some influence on the character of the Marquis in this story.  He was, inarguably, a fascinating figure.  Perhaps best known for being the progenitor of the term 'sadism', he was also an aristocrat, revolutionary, sexual libertine, atheist, philosopher, writer and, according to Carter, "old bastard".  His best known works include 'Justine', 'Juliette' and 'The 120 Days of Sodom'; much of his writing was published anonymously, due to its graphic pornography, violence and blasphemy.  It is estimated, however, that he spent up to 32 years of his life in prison.  His notoriety has overshadowed many other aspects of his life and character which show a far more multi-faceted man than the dissolute maniac he is often portrayed to be.  During the French Revolution, for example, he openly supported the Republic and declared himself 'Citizen Sade'.  Despite his aristocratic background, he succeeded in being elected to the National Convention and avoided the fate of so many others belonging to his class.  Although he openly admired Marat, he became critical of Robespierre, and was horrified by the Reign of Terror (1793-4).  De Sade was passionately opposed to the death penalty - unusual for his time - once writing, "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."  In 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte personally ordered de Sade to be incarcerated, which he was, without trial.  In 1803 he was declared insane and sent to the Charenton asylum, where he remained until his death at the age of 74.  This late period of his life was portrayed in the 1995 play and 2000 film 'Quills'; while not historically accurate in many respects, the piece discusses issues of censorship, liberty, creativity and insanity around the roguish figure of the Marquis.  The well known 1963 play 'Marat/Sade' by Peter Weiss is also set at the asylum during this time.





 Quotes (1) by the Marquis de Sade

Quotes (2) by the Marquis de Sade 

Extracts from 'The Sadeian Woman'