Books: The Marquis De Sade: A Life

By Neil Schaeffer

Some life! The execrable megapornographer Sade, who gave weird sex a bad name, is here the subject of revisionist treatment the thrust of which is that he had an enormous talent for wielding his pen as prodigiously as his penis. Since depravity was "natural," Sade argued, it must be irreproachable. Sade's notorious The 120 Days of Sodom, a revolting account of orgiastic activity combining the sexual with all varieties of bodily functions, is thus deemed "a transcendent, darkly sublime novel." Schaeffer's earnestly pedantic and repetitive paean is so numbing that only a masochist would enjoy it.

--By Jesse Birnbaum

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