Sade animates Newtonian virtue

analytical Essay
3763 words
3763 words

Sade animates Newtonian virtue

Sade integrated 18th century French materialism into his work at a such an elemental level that it is no exaggeration to say, as we will show here, that his pornography dramatises it directly. I will further argue that there is a strongly moral tone to his materialism : that characters are expected to practise what they preach, and to believe in their value system. The last part of my paper will look at how the opposing value system, Christianity, is satirised through the figure of Justine and that of the passive victims in general.

Sade was an atheist, a Lockean sensationist and a materialist; he avidly read Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie and the writings of the philosophes d’Holbach, Robinet, Condillac, La Mettrie and Buffon. He littered his works with references both tacit and explicit to the philosophes and passionately espoused what he saw as their cause. Their thinking was crucial to the construction of his own œuvre, and as he commented himself on his writing practice, “que veux-tu qu’on fasse sans livres ? Il faut en être entouré pour travailler, sinon on ne peut faire que des contes de fées, et je n’ai pas cet esprit-là.” [what am I supposed to do without books ? You have to be surrounded with them to work, otherwise you can only do fairy-stories, and I’m not that way inclined]. I hope to show here just how close his own work was to the materialism of the philosophes.

The Encyclopédie itself advocated a close expository relationship between science and literature. The article “Lettres” explains that:

“… les lettres et les sciences proprement dites, ont entr’elles l’enchainement, les liaisons, et les rapports les plus etroits; c’est dans l’Encyclopédie qu’il importe de le demontrer.” [literature and science are linked by the closest contact and relationship; it is up to the Encyclopédie to show that this is the case].

This assertion is of course based on the belief that science and literature are or should be about the same thing, that is to say, they are about life and nature. Life and nature, in the Encyclopédie, mean matter in all its various forms. Matter was defined by the Encyclopédie as a “substance étendue, solide, divisible, mobile et passible, le premier principe de

In this essay, the author

  • Argues that science and literature should be about life and nature. the encyclopédie defines matter as a substance étendue, solide, divisible, mobile and passible, the first principle of all natural things.
  • Analyzes how sade translates the theory of the behaviour of matter into a drama of humans functioning according to the same laws.
  • Analyzes how sade portrays justine as a passive victim attracted to her forceful generals. the inevitability of this process puts into perspective her inability to learn from her experience.
  • Analyzes how sade's gleeful debunking of christian morality demonstrates that "sadism" is actually a worked-up form of theories of the interaction of matter.
  • Analyzes how sade integrated 18th century french materialism into his work at an elemental level. they argue that his pornography dramatises it directly.
  • Analyzes how sade transports this fundamental law into his pornographic world, translating it into human terms.
  • Analyzes how the ties between the passages quoted above and sade are also tight at a very detailed level.
  • Explains the idea of elasticity in its sadean equivalent, explaining the ability of the libertine flesh to reconstitute itself after any degree of abuse.
  • Argues that braschi's intervention is blasphemous and turns the catholic church on its head.
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