LOS ANGELES—Anyone recognize the name Donatien Alphonse François? Anyone? We'll give you a hint: He was a French nobleman of the late 18th century. No? How about the name by which he was best known: The Marquis de Sade? Now you've got it!
A relative of the French royal family, de Sade was born in Paris in 1740, and eventually became an officer in the French army. But fighting in the Seven Years’ War changed him radically, and the Marquis quickly squandered his entire fortune on gambling and mistresses. His parents then married him off to a rich woman, but this did nothing to dissuade him from a libertine life of more mistresses and prostitutes—and it's also said that he not only regularly compelled servants and maids to perform sexual acts, but even worse, “blasphemous” sacrilegious acts. That got him thrown in prison for the first time in 1765, but once he got out, he continued to throw orgies—and not all of the "guests" participated voluntarily. A couple of years later, he was denounced for whipping and seriously abusing a woman, but avoided a trial by paying her off.
Not long after, two prostitutes claimed that de Sade had used an aphrodisiac to get them in the mood for group sex and anal intercourse—a charge that caused de Sade to flee to Italy ... and in his absence, he was sentenced to death. In 1777, he returned to Paris and was arrested, though his death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. It was during his prison stay that he wrote most of his books and essays, almost all of them in tiny handwriting so as not to draw too much attention to himself. In 1789, with the storming of the Bastille, de Sade was freed, but many of his writings were destroyed in the revolution. Nevertheless, he remained unrepentant, was jailed again, sentenced to death again, but after Robespierre’s rule was overthrown in 1794, he escaped the guillotine, got out of prison—and soon was confined to a lunatic asylum, where his diagnosis was "insanely obsessed with vice." He died in 1814, of "natural causes."
Much of the above was taken from the introduction to Goliath Books' new volume, Marquis De Sade – 100 Erotic Illustrations. In a sense, it's an important volume since many reprints of de Sade's most famous works leave out the hardcore copper engravings de Sade hired an artist (whose identity has been lost to time) to create, but they've now all been collected and reprinted in this latest edition. Mind you, Marquis De Sade – 100 Erotic Illustrations doesn't contain de Sade's writings; just the pictures—100 of them, and what's pictured above is just the smallest taste. And of course, the book is devoid of red leaves and gold stars, leaving sexual organs and acts in full view.