Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings

ISBN: 0802132189
ISBN 13: 9780802132185
By: Marquis de Sade

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About this book

No other writer has so scandalized proper society as the Marquis de Sade, but despite the deliberate destruction of over three-quarters of his work, Sade remains a major figure in the history of ideas. His influence on some of the greatest minds of the last century—from Baudelaire and Swinburne to Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky and Kafka—is indisputable. This volume contains Philosophy in the Bedroom, a major novel that presents the clearest summation of his political philosophy; Eugénie de Franval, a novella widely considered to be a masterpiece of eighteenth-century French literature; and the only authentic and complete American edition of his most famous work, Justine. This literary portrait of Sade is completed by one of his earliest philosophical efforts, Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man, a selection of his letters, a fifty-page chronology of his life, two important essays on Sade, and a bibliography of his work.

Reader's Thoughts


"Philosophy in the Bedroom", the one short story, and "Justine" all feature the same basic ingredients, which is brutal sex acts (featuring a lot of anal sex) followed by harangues about the virtues of Nature. These harangues generally say that men are animals and in countries all over the world throughout time men have been animals, so why not be an animal too? I suppose that's fine so long as you don't aspire to be anything more than an animal, whatever your faith in a higher power may be.In reading "Justine" by the end I started to laugh at what an idiot she is. You'd think after the third or fourth time she'd figure out not to go with these men she barely knows to a secluded chateau somewhere because they're just going to tie her up and abuse her! Just like you'd think she'd figure out that if someone seems to offer her a wonderful new job there's some horrible catch attached. By the time she does realize this 14 years later it's too late. I suppose that was part of the point that she is so naive and innocent that it's nigh on impossible for her to lose faith. The moral of the story is, kids, don't talk to strangers. And now you know...and knowing's half the battle.As for the letters included I don't know what the point was because they seemed mostly to be him whining at his wife to bring him more clothes. You'd probably be just as well off buying "Justine" separately because everything in it is repeated in "Philosophy in the Bedroom" or just isn't that important anyway.Still, it was an interesting trip into the dark side.


Hold it, don't fight! It's a forbidden thrill AND a philosophy!


This is weird, but at times I wondered if de sade was an early feminist. His athiestic tirades were dead on, but his rants on women's inferiority were so ridiculous that I wondered if he were "pulling a Jonathan Swift." Folks who have read 120 days of Sadom say not, but I still wonder. I did enjoy it for the philosophy, assinine and not so much, and the kinkiness was not that extreme, except the bleeding one. I loved how he killed her off at the end and by the end he was calling her feeble because she never learned, not once.


By 'read' I mean 'got through the first 60 or so pages of Justine for book group'. :)I don't think this is a text I would've chosen on my own. I'm glad being in a book group means I get to read books I normally wouldn't, that I find challenging, and that often take me out of my comfort zone. This book definitely ticked all three categories.Justine was a challenging read, and the rape and poo-related scenes were out of my comfort zone. (Though having read Angela Carter for book group too meant I wasn't completely shocked by these scenes. Perhaps I'm a bit desensitized!)I would give Justine about 4 out of 5 stars for: importance and influence on other works, and because it is a historical artifact/document of a certain time. However I would give it about a 2 or 3 for readability, enjoyment, etc. Overall, my rating was about a 3.

Harry Miktarian

what a sick bastard...I couldn't put it down.

Victoria Haf

This is my favorite Marquis de Sade book because most of the others just contain scenes that are, well, sadistic.In this one I felt a moral questioning. Justine never lets go of her moral despite all the bad situations she gets into, and instead of perceiving a great stoic person, we begin to question her morals as truths or even as reasonable, we are presented with the antithesis of moral thought and we can perceive truth and reason in it


Most people either love or hate the Marquis de Sade. I did not take either stance. I wouldn't say I disliked the book but it's a bit out there for me. I am more interested in the Marquis de Sade's personal life and political pieces than what made him famous, his pornography. Having said that, there are certain people out there who really appreciate what he did in his time and I can respect that. Marquis de Sade is at least worth checking out.

Kathy Stone

I did not like this book. I found it very hard to read because of the sexually explicit content. I personally could never be a libertine because the whole idea of sodomy just disgusts me. Bisexual orgies I find extremely revolting and so this book took much longer to read than I had anticipated. The ripping open of a person's anus is just one act that I find completely reprehensible. The sexual acts are supposed to bring a husband and wife together. These passions are expected to be bridled so that children conceived will no that they are loved and wanted. These particular novels did not show husbands that loved their wives rather the few married men written about were into debauchery and incest. Children were not wanted and that was why sodomy of women was permitted because than there was no threat of pregnancy. Virtue is not rewarded in these novels, but rather severely punished by consistent rape and other forms of abuse. I am aware that de Sade is the reason for the term "sado-masochism. I personally do not believe that sex needs to involve pain,nor do I believe that homosexuality is normal. That may go against today's political thinking, but I need to stick with what I believe. I would not recommend this book.

Don Rea

/Justine/ is little more than a prurient joyride unless you've read Rousseau. That is, it's a direct rebuttal of Rouseeau's notions of the noble savage and the social contract. De Sade presents man's unfettered urges as being driven by the pleasure of the moment, regardless of the cost to others. You either happen to be in a position to impose your desires, or you are the object of the desires of others, or both. The savage is not noble in any sense that we might recognize; he is merely a bundle of appetites, and he waits just below the patina of civilization for any chance to sate his lusts. De Sade brings his case to life with a story told in luxurious, nauseating detail.


I am not certain quite what has been done here. As pornography in and of itself, little that de sade wrote is likely to impress the fetishist; his work has been endlessly imitated and is likely to have been seen before. As enduring fiction, de Sade seems to me correct yet disconnected by time and space, far less immediate and illuminative than, I dunno, Goethe or Shakespeare or someone who really wrote.As philosophy, however, de Sade is, and should be, considered among the great thinkers of his time, and I prefer his to Kant's or Paine's work when it comes to late 18th centure philosophers. Many call him a precursor to Freud, but apart from their preoccupation with sex, they haven't much to do with each other. For the best outline of de Sade's philosophy, I'd read "philosophy in the boudoir", included here. Justine (and Juliette as well) are lovely books for libertines and scoundrels, and I'd reccomend them both to anyone who carries those labels proudly.

Tom Nittoli

Let me preface that three stars is my default rating for anything I don't feel qualified to accurately assess. Although I've read a handful of literature spawning from the eighteenth century, I've in fact read no pornographic tales of lecherous old men, debauchery, and pious charlatans masquerading as important figures with a hankering for despotism, rape, and ..... The two essays in the beginning are very helpful for context and explanatory notes. They work almost like a narrator setting the time, place, vibe, etc. Philosophy in the Bedroom, works in a interesting systematic orchestra of lustful sex followed closely by philosophic debate, and by debate, I mean long diatribes that invoke the reader to imagine a Shakespearean soliloquy where the actor is highlighted by a spotlight droning out the background. The sex is... good? I guess. The philoshpy is .... well-said? At times... I guess. The concept of a sex scene followed by six pages of one character talking.... not too great. Justine is the crowning achievement.

Melissa Jackson

Not as horrific as I thought it would be, vastly more horrific than I ever dreamed. I need to wash out my brain and simultaneously re-evaluate some things. (The fact that Sade was a politician as well as a sex trafficker, rapist and thug adds a whole other ironic element to this fiasco of an erotic treatise.)

January Carroll

What a load of dribbling moronic crap! No really, why would a man in prison for more than 40 years equate sex with death and pain and a pathological fear, loathing and desire to subjugate women? Please! The fact that people worship him as a genius is pathetic. I read this book originally as research for something I thought I wanted to write at the time to "rescue" the Justine character. I changed my mind after I read this ludicrous, infantile treatise. No redeeming qualities, but you have to give it one star to be able to review it.

Nick Crawford

Something fascinating, essential to any engaged in ethics. But to be read with a neutral eye. Take my 3 stars to be an impassive non-rating. A must read and must run away from.I write leaving 100 pages in Justine herself as well as scandalously leaving my beloved Blanchot's essay like a favorite treat to malinger unread for another day. There's an infectious urge one gets to turn the next page with Sade, but pushing too far does alter one's temperament, and it's time for me to swim in warmer waters.The other essay's a fine introduction. Worth the time.Priest and the Dead Man is a sufficient summation of Sade's atheism. Arguments are fine, but as arguments, are quite forgettable. Ends up feeling like something out of r/Atheism.Philosophy of the Bedroom was a great and concise introduction to Sade's core. Argument, Sex, Diatribe, Sex, Philosophy, Sex, and finally some sexual torture. The book calls this Nietzsche and the like put to action/practice. As such, it's quite interesting as a window into what Sade's everything is permitted really means. It's quite limited and enjoys these limits, though. Libertines are a pack of wolves, here educating one of their own on why the world must immolate to the ultimate end of personal pleasure alone. Sade's extreme is really quite useful in tangent with the more subtler applications of Swinburne, Bataille, or the like. But as a polemic, it does show its limitations as well. The black comedy of Philosophy was decent at moments, but largely little more than the laughter of the powerful libertine over his vanquished victim. There are actually funny moments in a couple places other than that, but I found little to rivet me on this account. Justine, however, is a bit funnier. Philosophy is trying to be funny, laughing with peers, but Justine is what can be laughed at, here and there, along with common piety, the bildungsroman, etc. A much more effective subject for black comedy.Justine I'm enjoying much more. There's much overlap in terms of argument, but the way its put to work in Justine's inversion of Job is richer, has a bit more nuance for the reader to work with. I really am enjoying the read, but the diatribes do grow a tiresome after a while.On Sade's excess, it's all quite essential, as well. I feared his writing style would be repulsive to my tastes, full of Dickensian fluff. But the expenditure of words in Sade is much like that of his spilling of blood. Pitiless, a cold pleasure in the violent opening up. His sarcerdotalism has its limits, as I've said, but one does instantly partake in that ritual with the reading. Quite an achievement.An essential exercise of violence and immorality.

Sahil Sood

So revolting and insanely brilliant that only a genius could have written it! A highly depraved, hedonistic, compunctionless and transgressive genius whose libidinous text both shocks and edifies.

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