Marquis de Sade

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Marquis de Sade

Donatien Alphonse François (2 June 1740 – 2 December 1814), better known by his title Marquis de Sade, was a French nobleman, revolutionary and author known for his advocacy and practice of libertine sexuality. It is from his title that the words "sadist", "sadism", etc. stem from. Sade's works, which include novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts, mix philosophical and political discourse with extreme pornography and eroticism, such as sodomy (anal sex), blasphemy, torture, and rape, often involving children and teenagers. One such example is his 1785 unfinished novel The 120 Days of Sodom. Sade openly supported state brothels for people to relieve their sexual desires.

Sade was imprisoned numerous times throughout his life because of his works, spending a total of over thirty years enclosed in cells. Towards the end of his life he was declared insane and sent to the Charenton Asylum in Paris, where he was allowed to stage many of his plays. From 1810, when he was around 70, until his death, Sade is known to have had a sexual relationship with 14-year-old Madeleine LeClerc, daughter of an employee at Charenton.

Sade continues to be a relevant figure to this day, with both haters and admirers. He may be considered one of the fathers of BDSM, with his work being influential in the lives of those who live their sexuality freely. Prolific French intellectuals such as Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault have written on Sade.