Psychopath, madman, degenerate, depraved, rapist, monster—you can find dozens of adjectives to describe Marquis de Sade, and most fit. The man responsible for the words “sadism” and “sadist” lived a deplorable live filled with violence and depravity. As a consequence of his actions—and writings—he spent a bulk of his life in prison.
His books manage to shock readers even today. They’re appalling, disgusting, philosophical, tedious, interesting, thought-provoking, and grotesque. But they’re not without merit and they’ve found a peculiar place in the western canon.
Earlier editions of his books, hidden in libraries and owned by elite members with certain sexual proclivities, included fascinating and grotesque illustrations. Below are a few examples. Enjoy. Or not.