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Marquis de Sade random quotes and writings.

Updated on July 25, 2010

Marquis de Sade

Marquis de Sade: The discovery:

A few years ago while browsing among dusty old books at an antique book fair I discovered a French writer who has become one of my favourite authors, the Marquis de Sade. What started as simple curiosity for his erotic novels developed into a passion for his radical philosophy of freedom, his extreme individualism and his focus on sexuality as a driving force. Later on I developed an admiration for this revolutionary materialist thinker and writer who had the dubious privilege of living during France’s most turbulent years and major socio-political changes that drove the country from a monarchy to a republic and then to an empire.

The Marquis de Sade, born Donatien Alphonse François in 1740 in Paris is one of the most criticized authors in history.His works include not only erotic novels combined with philosophical discourse, but also short stories, plays, and political writings. During his lifetime, his writings and lifestyle cost him several social scandals and imprisonment in different locations such as 10 years in the Bastille, a couple of years in a fortress and 13 years in the Charenton asylum. Most of his works were written during his imprisonment time.

Sade’s life

The marquis de Sade lived a scandalous libertine life which included an affair with his wife's sister. During one of his stays in Paris several prostitutes complained about his mistreatment and he was imprisoned for short periods of time. At one point he was even accused of kidnapping a woman and keeping her in one of his castles where he abused her sexually and physically. Sade was also accused of trying to poison prostitutes with the aphrodisiac Spanish fly and of sodomy with a man servant. Those charges were enough to condemn someone to death in his time but, due to his influence, Sade got away with imprisonment. However, I agree with Anthony Walker (who wrote a biography of Sade) that Sade’s excesses were to a point laughable as they never lead to any real harm or loss of life. The fact was that as Walker points out, Sade’s “Bum-whipping and the distribution of aphrodisiac sweets would take on, in the minds of ignorant Victorian prudes (and of many such today!) the magnitude of horrendous "sadistic" acts which have defined Sade ever since for the wilfully ignorant and the consumers of gutter press sensationalism.”

In 1801 Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the arrest of the author of Justine and Juliette and Sade was arrested and imprisoned without trial. In 1803 the Marquis de Sade was declared insane and transferred again to an asylum at Charenton. The director of the institution, the Abbé de Coulmier, allowed and encouraged him to stage several of his plays, with the inmates as actors, to be viewed by the Parisian public. In 1809 new police orders put Sade into solitary confinement and deprived him of pens and paper. It was here that Sade began an affair with a 13-year-old daughter of an employee at the asylum. The affair lasted about 4 years, until Sade's death in 1814.

Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings

The Misfortunes of Virtue and Other Early Tales (Oxford World's Classics)
The Misfortunes of Virtue and Other Early Tales (Oxford World's Classics)
In his bleak, claustrophobic universe, there is no God, no human affection, and no hope. This is a fully annotated edition including an introduction, a biographical study, and a history of the censorship of these writings.

Marquis de Sade works:

Unfortunately, only a few of Sade’s works have been translated to English and it is only when read in its original French language that you can understand the beauty and power of the language used to discuss his philosophy and describe his wildest fantasies.

Some of Sade’s most popular works are:

"Dialogue Between A Priest And A Dying Man", a play written during his first imprisonment when he was only 23 years old. Here, Sade joins the ranks of the atheist-materialist philosophers refuting all theological arguments for the existence of a God.

"The Crimes of Love", a masterpiece that explores emotional cruelty and the exploitation of women and the poor and trusting by villainous aristocrats whose sole morality is perverse pleasure and the misuse of others.

"Reflections On The Novel", a book where Sade offers advice to would-be creative writers.

"Tales of a Provençal Troubadour of the Eighteenth Century", a collection of short stories which show Sade as one of the greatest humorists of all time.

"The Misfortunes of Virtue" was written in only a fortnight and become the first version of his novel « Justine ».

"The 120 Days of Sodom" a work that Sade started while imprisoned in The Bastille and he considered his masterpiece. This is one of his most hard core sexual accounts at times grotesque and absurd.

"The 120 Days of Sodom", A catalogue of sexual aberrations and the first systematic exploration of the psychology of sex

Random quotes by the Marquis de Sade

“My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved. Do you suppose I care? A poor fool indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others!”

About women:

“I've already told you: the only way to a woman's heart is along the path of torment. I know none other as sure.”

Quotes About laws:

“Are not laws dangerous which inhibit the passions? Compare the centuries of anarchy with those of the strongest legalism in any country you like and you will see that it is only when the laws are silent that the greatest actions appear.”

“Social order at the expense of liberty is hardly a bargain.”

“The horror of wedlock, the most appalling, the most loathsome of all the bonds humankind has devised for its own discomfort and degradation.”

“What is more immoral than war?”

“Destruction, hence, like creation, is one of Nature's mandates.”

Quotes About sex:

"Sex" is as important as eating or drinking and we ought to allow the one appetite to be satisfied with as little restraint or false modesty as the other.”

“It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure.”

“In order to know virtue, we must first acquaint ourselves with vice.”

“Lust is to the other passions what the nervous fluid is to life; it supports them all, lends strength to them all ambition, cruelty, avarice, revenge, are all founded on lust.”

About theft

"How can you expect the man who has nothing to honour a law which protects the man who has everything? It is his duty, surely, to attempt to redress the balance!"

About death penalty

"Either murder is a crime, or it is not. If it is not, why punish it? If it is, then by what perverse logic do you punish it by the same crime?" It also is tantamount to bad arithmetic, since "now two people are dead instead of one!"

About blasphemy

“Blasphemy can only exist if God exists. If there is no God, then blasphemy and all other "religious crimes" are likewise non-existent. So how can you have laws against them? If one, on the other hand, believes in a God, can he really believe his God to be so petty as to take offence at being calumnied? Such a God isn't worthy of honour!

Quills Trailer

What other writers have to say about the Marquis de Sade:

Simone de Beauvoir in her essay Must we burn Sade? (1952) attempted to locate traces of a radical philosophy of freedom in Sade's writings, preceding modern existentialism by some 150 years.

In the psychoanalytical field Sade has been seen as a precursor of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis in his focus on sexuality as a motive force.

The surrealists admired him and famously called him "the freest spirit that has yet existed".

Pierre Klossowski, in his book Sade Mon Prochain (1947), analyzes Sade's philosophy as a precursor of nihilism.

Anthony Walker says “Sade's antics never led to loss of life and are merely laughable. It was the humiliation these sex games, held at brothels all over Paris and also in Provence, caused madame la presidente (his mother in law)  that led to Sade being imprisoned by lettre de cachet, and nothing more."

As a manner of conclusion

In popular culture Sade’s name evokes sexual violence, hence the term Sadism. However, if his works still seem relevant it is not just because of his sexually explicit writings but also because of the message behind his philosophical discourse. Sade’s philosophy of extreme individualism became a reality in the economic liberalism of the following centuries. His works are still valid in the sense of the criticism of the powerful and the hypocritical values of our society. For me Sade was a man who dared live his life the way he wanted to and dared to defy censorship.

Hubchallenge Day 22


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    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      10 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      I would add,that the only way to a woman's heart,that man is capable of,is through the path of torment,all else is deciet.;)

    • Jaynie2000 profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for this great, well-researched hub. The Marquis, while disturbed by most accounts, remains an intriguing figure, with the power to simultaneously attract and repel. Nice work.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      So sade is nothing for literature.his writings very amateurish and lack of art.they are not not erotic nor exciting but full of torture,murder,mutilation and rape against women,girls and children and there are reflections of his real life.her philosophy is also too simple and childish that a cover is for his perversion.there are many ignorants who think he is a good writer and philosoph,sadly.they even don't have a bit clue of his real life.he thought that he was superior and he had right to rape and murder women and children.he said that rape and murder were not crime and added "i am not a crime nor murderer".in lacoste he hired girls as maid and captivated them for at least 6 weeks.he and his valet raped,tortured,whipped,mutiliated and humiliated children.he did not let them go.ultimately peasants saw the truth and even a father, one of being tortured and raped girls,tried to shoot sade.unforunately his cartridge was blank.they informed authorities and that monster had to escape once more.sade's only goal in life was to get pleasure through giving pain to girls,women and children who was aged 8-14.they were only flesh,hole,body,worthless sex objects according to sade as he admitted.if u like sade then u must love ted bundy,serial killers,rapers and child abusers.we all have mothers,daughters,sisters,lovers and sons.anybody wants them to be in sade's hands?angela carter says"he gave women sexual freedom"what freedom?freedom of being raped,tortured,mutiliated,whipped,murdered and heavly beaten up in order to give pleasure sade through shrieks,screams and begging to stop.any woman wants this freedom?

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      On Easter Sunday, April 3, 1768, at 9 o'clock in the morning, Sade finds himself

      at the Place des Victoires, dressed in gray jacket, white ornamental cuffs

      protruding around his wrists, sporting a stylish cane and carrying an elegant

      hunting knife at the waist. He stands under the shadow of a statue of Louis XIV

      (which was to be destroyed by an angry mob in 1792) and sights a young woman who

      seems to be a beggar. She is Rose Keller, a German immigrant, 36 years old, the

      widow of a baker, struggling to eke out a living in prerevolutionary Paris,

      reduced to beggary. The young Marquis (he is now 28) approaches her with the

      promise of one ecu if she agrees to follow him. She draws back, diffident,

      replying that she is an honest woman. Sade reassures her: he is in need of a

      domestic, someone to put order in his household and clean his bedroom. After

      some interchange, Rose Keller accepts the offer and climbs into the carriage

      that the Marquis, with a sign of his hand, has just summoned. And the two are

      off to Arcueil, a neighboring town where the nobleman has a country residence,

      much frequented by those who cater to his bizarre sexual preferences.

      The woman is not surprised to be taken directly upstairs to his bedroom, since

      this room was specifically mentioned in the transaction as the place where her

      services would be most needed. The Marquis tells her that he is going to bring

      some refreshment, and that she should wait for him in the bedroom. When he

      leaves he locks the room with two turns of the key. After a while, he appears in

      the bedroom and orders Rose to follow him. Although it is still afternoon, the

      shut wooden sashes of the barred windows and the thick stone walls of the

      country residence render the place as dark and silent as if it were late at


      According to Rose's declaration to the police, this is what happened next. Once

      in the appropriate room, Sade summarily orders her to take off her clothes. She

      is reticent. She asks why. He says it is ''to have fun.'' She retorts,

      indignant, that she did not come for that. Then, tired of this annoying

      preamble, Sade draws his knife and threatens: either she does as she is told, or

      she is a dead woman. Trembling, she yields to this persuasion. The Marquis, with

      renewed threats to his victim, succeeds in tying her limbs to the posts of a

      canopied bed. The scenario is thus complete: there is a psychopath; a piteously

      frightened, naked, bound female victim; and a dark, silent torture chamber,

      barely illuminated by the trembling light of a candle. The torture itself is

      less awesome than these ceremonial surroundings.

      When it is over, the torturer shows some kindness. He daubs ointment on the

      weeping victim's excoriated skin, unties her and instructs her to rinse the

      bloodstains off her clothes. He then leaves the room, locking the door behind

      him. Rose Keller loses no time. She manages to pry the window open and, using

      the bedsheets and some of her clothes tied into a makeshift rope, lowers herself

      to the ground below.She comes across some village women. They are startled at her unkempt,

      disheveled condition and her bloody gown. Tearfully, she explains her distress

      and describes her recent ordeal. Among exclamations of astonishment and

      disbelief, she is taken to the shed of a farmhouse, where the women lift her

      skirts to see for themselves. That man is a monster! A demon!

      Indignant and shocked, the women take the trembling victim to the authorities

      for a deposition. After the case is vented in criminal court, an order of arrest

      is issued. In June 1768 our man is behind bars again. He will remain there for

      close to a year.

      It now appears likely that circumstances extraneous to the described facts had a

      bearing on the severe sentence that was passed against the offender. The truth

      is, a powerful and influential nobleman of Sade's rank could and often did get

      away with murder in those times. Historians conclude, from evidence that for the

      sake of brevity is omitted here, that powerful parties had decided to

      ''contain'' Sade's misconduct, and members of his own family had agreed. Be that

      as it may, the stray sheep is strictly confined, in the merciless manner that

      was customary at the time.

      We hear very little from the Marquis until 1772, the year of the famous affaire

      of Marseilles. Of this incident the documentation is massive. He leaves his

      homestead in Provence to obtain some cash in Marseilles about the middle of

      June. He is in his early 30's. His servant, Latour, has preceded him, charged

      with the duty of scouring the streets and houses of ill fame in search of the

      appropriate female bodies. His master's instructions have been as clear as they

      were specific: he wants them ''very young.''

      So it is that on the morning of June 27, Sade and his servant enter the domicile

      of Mariette Borelly, a 23-year-old madam, at the corner of Aubagne and Capucins

      Streets. Three young women, between 18 and 20 years of age, are already waiting

      for the customers. The specific nature, arrangement and chronology of the scenes

      of sexual activity are a matter of historical record. Suffice it to say that in

      the course of these proceedings great inventiveness was displayed. Sade

      disported himself, as usual, as an enthusiastic stage manager: he directed the

      twosomes and threesomes into striking scenes of sodomization, homosexuality,

      mutual flagellation and - to break the monotony, as it were - ''normal''

      heterosexual activity.

      In the intervals of these exhausting exertions, the Marquis displayed all the

      gallantry and all the delicacy of manners that a man of his high station, bred

      in the ways of the most refined court in the world, could, on the occasion,

      manifest. Thus, he joked with the women, rewarded their submissiveness with

      liberality and tried to win their unreserved acceptance, having brought with him

      a crystal box of exquisite workmanship filled with chocolates. Later in the

      evening Sade -again bearing the sweets - visits yet another house of ill fame.

      When he leaves, the crystal chocolate box is totally empty.

      In the official investigation that followed it was established that one of the

      women he had been with that evening had suddenly been taken by violent abdominal

      pains, a feeling of urinary urgency and protracted vomiting of blackish, grumous

      stomach contents. The next day, another victim, pale and weak, was brought to

      police headquarters, leaning on the shoulders of two friends and in the company

      of several other residents of Aubagne Street. Together with seven other

      witnesses, she said in her deposition that an attempt at poisoning was traceable

      to the chocolates that ''a foreigner'' had liberally distributed among the


      The legal machinery is once again activated against the infamous Marquis, but

      forewarned that the state means business, he flees from his castle toward Italy.

      The crown continues the legal proceedings in his absence. The two felons, Sade

      and Latour, are declared ''contumax et defaillants'' - contumacious and in

      contempt of court. They are found guilty of sodomy (a serious offense in the

      18th century), attempted poisoning and outrage to the country's morals, and they

      are condemned to perform an act of public atonement in front of the door of the

      cathedral, then to be transported to the gallows. But the two gallows birds are

      not in France. Latour accompanies his master on his tour of sunny Italy. Sade

      travels in high style, graciously accepting the honors due to his high position

      in the social scale.

    • Anath profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago

      I would have hated to go that way. I think Sade was a great thinker and writer it is a shame that his works have been sensationalise and exploited only for its sexual content. Thanks for reading this Thamisgith, I am happy you enjoyed it.

    • Thamisgith profile image


      12 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      It would have been easier to sensationalise that topic - but you didn't. A very thoughtful piece. I enjoyed reading that.

    • Anath profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago

      That is one of the reasons why I like Sade so much Brian.

    • BrianS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      12 years ago from Laroque des Alberes, France

      A lot of people adopt the thoughts of other people in order to achieve approval. I agree with Sade, much better to have your own thoughts and the strength of character to stand by your opinions.

    • Anath profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago

      I feel that too much bad propaganda has beed spread about a very singular writer and brilliant philosopher. Like in most subjects, ignorance leads to just focussing in the points that people want to criticize rather than seeing the bigger picture and assimilating the good points dismissing the bad ones. Thanks Tony.

      Sade can be very kinky, nauughty and cruel but also had a way to see things that put him ahead of his time. Thanks Lady_E.

    • Lady_E profile image


      12 years ago from London, UK

      Interesting Hub. First time I'm reading about him. What a Kinky man.

      Ps. Well done on Hub challenge.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      12 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent introduction to the writings and ideas of a very interesting person!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas about thisw.

      Love and peace



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