Books: He Drained the Dregs of Man

THE LIFE AND IDEAS OF THE MARQUIS DE SADE by Geoffrey Gorer. 250 pages. Norton. $5. "This is the most impure tale that has been written since the world began," the Marquis de Sade said of his novel Les 120 Journees de Sodome; and the world has tended to agree. Les 120 Journees has been banned almost everywhere—even in France, and so have most of the rest of De Sade's works, which describe in relentless detail murder, torture, coprophagy, and sex orgies that are a triumph of human engineering. "Here I am," boasts a De Sade heroine during...

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