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


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.


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.


I only read the story Justine, which is just one of the few stories in this huge novel. I've never read a story like this before. Marquis de Sade used to get arrested for his writings because they were considered greatly perversive in his time. They are even considered perversive today but they are actually allowed to be published which is great for us.This story is astounding in a crazy but great way. I can honestly say I've never read a thing like it. There is a lesson in this book somewhere but I was too shocked to understand it. Bravo to Marquis de Sade for this story because I was completely taken in and then spit back out while being slapped in the face. You can never again complain about your life once you read what poor Justine goes through.Final thoughts/words WOW!

John Christy

Sade's spittle and bile for polite society is never on better display than here. As he probably would have predicted, we've become worse and more hypocritical than ever before. Progress is a myth; we like to pretend we've become transgressive, but in fact we've only turned sex and violence into cartoons - in fact we're scandalized more than ever by the real. This is particularly true among the progressives, leftists, and liberal priests who like to walk around and prattle about liberty while being as oppressive as any regressive hypocrite - the difference is we, the left, have managed to push our fears underground, where they've grown uglier and larger than we can imagine. Sade would have loved to be alive today in our culture of prudery. If Sade were working today, there'd be some truly revolutionary art . . . not to take anything away from Justine or Philosophy in the Bedroom.

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.)


*yawn* I don't own this book anymore. It found a good home on a church pew.


Interesting, given the history surrounding these publications and the fate of the author, but disturbing. I can't help like feeling that De Sade wrote these tales just to be shocking, much like if you were to scream out "F*ck!" during a religous ceremony, or the way a child says words they know are unpermissible just to see what will happen. The dialogue between the raunchy parts is occasionally interesting (if you can concentrate on it) and the discussions on homosexuality and abortions are still relevant today. Funny how some things never change...

0noktasi Müge

Sade fena.

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

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.

Yohana Cuchillo

This book is a great book about how the misfortunes of Justine leave her to do quiet the opposite of virtue. It demonstrates that anyone is capable of doing the opposite of virtue. She prostitutes herself to rich men in order to survive as an orphan. she does this because she doesn't receive help from anyone not even the servant that took care of her as a child. overall, it is a opening book about misfortunes and virtue.


This was a difficult book to read. The biographical information and his correspondence are interesting, but this fiction of his is ridiculous. I've racked my brain trying to vindicate the time I've wasted; trying to lend allegorical weight to Sade's philosophy. If the dispensable horrors in Philosophy in the Bedroom and Justine are meant to be satire or reverse psychology, Sade is absolutely awful at it. Perhaps he's like that introvert at a dinner party who carries a joke too far. But once you look at his life, it's clear there's no satire here, nor any need of it.Of the few things I appreciate, his analytical chats on homosexuality and the gray areas between sexual activity for sport or propagation – these were strong, however often repeated and over-emphasized. Even some of his atheism, anti-law and anti-cleric digressions hold ground. But what undermines these arguments is that they come from the mouths of his antagonists, who in the same breath preach murder, torture, sublimation of the weak, incest, statutory rape, etc. You cannot convince me that Sade meant to use Swiftian sarcasm to shed a criminalizing light on evil men. He describes their crimes with such pornographic and bestial detail, makes his criminals so much wiser than their victims, that it just seems clear to me that they are the heroes. Also, his atheistic dogma is replaced by worship of the goddess Nature. This is one of many philosophic contradictions. Before reading this, I thought libertinage meant drinking, drugs, promiscuity – basically the rock 'n roll lifestyle. The libertinage of Sade involves (at least in his imagination) rape, torture and murder. Whatever makes the libertine happy, regardless of consequence, which in his characters translates as cruelty to others. In the 20-something scenes of this behavior in Justine, I don't mind the scatological fetishes, blood-letting, piercing suspension or strangulation orgies, for example, since he describes these things in simple terms. To be frank, it's his hyperbolic descriptions of engulfing showers of sperm, penises of forearm proportions, and voluptuously tight asses. His heroine Justine marches blindly ahead, remaining virtuous and kind, while every stranger she meets takes carnal advantage of her, each one with a larger and more menacing phallus (literally). Sade must mean for his readers to see her as stupid and arrogant above all else. If the hero doesn't defend herself, is she implicit in the crime? I don't know, but I'm sick of thinking in this vein. No more. If anyone is ever tempted to read Justine, proceed to the final 5 pages where Justine summarizes the plot.

Erik Graff

Dad obtained this book in paperback right after Grove Press put it out in '65. For a while it sat in the bookshelf in the living room, then it disappeared into the parental bedroom where, of course, I quickly rediscovered it. Being about thirteen at the time, I found Philosophy in the Bedroom to be stimulating in its earlier parts, but its conclusion and its companion book, Justine, were off-putting.Later, after I'd entered high school, I actually sat down and read the introduction to the volume by Simone deBeauvior, an essay about Sade and the close connection between his overt sadism and covert masochism. It was actually quite clever, quite well written.Now, as an adult no longer mystified by sex, I still wonder at someone like the Marquis deSade. His work, such as I've seen, is rather repetitive and boring. Yet he was prodigious in its production and this despite repeated treatments and punishments. Was the essence of his obsession a rebellious spirit and perverse sexuality merely the convenient channel for its expression as suggested by the recent film, Quills? Freud once wrote that sado-masochism was one of the greater mysteries of human psychology. His late Thanatos theory was an attempt to get at it, but I do not find it convincing.


De Sade, the pervert. De Sade, the (sometimes uninentional) humorist. De Sade, the provocacateur. Perhaps what shines through most in reading Justine and some of the other works in this book is De Sade, the philosopher. Of course, all of the above traits also characterize de Sade, but clearly he writes not merely to arouse or scandalize or provoke, but is something of an Any Rand, laying forth in novel form a philosophy best understood as a philosophy of life with obvious political ramifications. In fact, if one looks at his work as a certain enunciation of a philosophy, then it is easy to see how often he runs into sermonizing. But this was the tail end of 18th Century Europe, and holding forth at great length on big ideas was all the rage. So what sort of life/political philosophy does de Sade expound? Undoubtedly it is one where anything goes. He even takes pains to defend violence and murder: places that other "serious" philosophers of the time did not dare defend. Imagine Rousseau or Locke defending the right to harm another or even murder. But de Sade, not only the lover of pain, but the lover of pleasure, followed his ideas to their logical extreme and this is why people still read him. And it's also why most people don't read him. It flies in the face of everything anyone considers "decent" and "wholesome." In de Sade there are clearly premonitions of bigger things to come with Freud and Nietzsche. But neither Nietzsche nor Freud took the tack that de Sade does with his 18th C. noble charms and charming prose. It's hard to say a lot of it doesn't provoke laughter. But while a lot of the situations in the book are so ridiculous they're funny, de Sade the philosopher is dead serious. De Sade, locked away, chained up. De Sade, masturbating frantically and sitting down with his quill to write just as frantically. People still read this because de Sade was the first (and maybe the best) to explore desire unbound by conceit, good sense, and morality. Definitely without morality. Machiavelli with an erection? Perhaps.


"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.

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