A-to-Z: Marquis de Sade

I love 120 Days of Sodom.

In fact, I’d rank it as one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Because I hated every twisted word in that book.

I was repulsed. I was disgusted. In some places, I felt physically sick; a deep revulsion that came not from the throat but from the pit of my stomach.

No other book had done so before, and few have caused such a reaction since. It is a book of pure evil, a tale so twisted in its narrative that it inspired the most depraved, controversial film in existence, 1975 production of Salo.

I first came across 120 Days of Sodom when I was a teenager; the words inspired me, far more than the self-aggrandising plays of Shakespeare or the dull Tolstoy, but the text leapt from the page, conjuring ever more dark and disgusting scenes of debauchery. In truth, since that day erotica from a past age has always held a mysticism for me. The words have more impact, the scenes feel more real and the pace of the stories skip with zest and zeal. The stories sing their narratives.

120 Days of Sodom is Marquis de Sade’s most notorious of works; set in a remote castle, four men hear stories from aged prostitutes, who then inspire the impassioned men to commit rape, incest, torture and murder to innocent people: some of them children. It includes coprophilia, urologia, necrophilia, bestiality, disembowelment, flaying, torturous murder and savage sadism. Indeed, it is from Sade, that the word sadism derives.

I was certainly too young to read it when I did although there are some anecdotes in the book that are frightening close to Game of Thrones. It scared me, challenged me and made me think; indeed, I still find the strength of the reaction caused in me, both then and now, to be incredible. And I know I’m not alone in saying that: 120 Days of Sodom is a powerful book.

I think it is because of some of my reading during my formative years that I sometimes like to create malevolent characters and stories; occasionally too, I like to play with “the line,” trying to eke a reaction from my readers. I know I’m not always talented enough to produce an end result that’s what I wanted to achieve, but I do try!

So how is this part of my sex life? It was the first erotic book I remember reading. It was the first book that made me think about sadism and sex together. It was the first time I realised books could inflame passions and emotions rather than tell a story. It was the first time I realised happy endings don’t always exist. It broadened my horizons.

And now, while I like my wife to be a sadist, that is a modern, risk-aware way, not the Marquis’s brutal, homicidal, evil way.

Featured image from here

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