“When numerous critics have all pointed to the stunning mastery of dialogue evinced in [Sade’s] novels, to say nothing of the truly theatrical disposition of many of the scenes—erotic or otherwise—this would seem to be linked to the theatrical obsession that persisted so disturbingly throughout his tempestuous existence. Shouldn’t we therefore look more closely at this theatre…?”
Annie Le Brun
In commemoration of the two hundred years that have passed since the death of the Marquis de Sade in 1814, the three-volume series, Rape, Incest, Murder! The Marquis de Sade on Stage, offers English translations of all of Sade’s writings, for and about the theatre, with introductions that contextualize Sade’s work within the theatrical climate of eighteenth-century France.
Volume 3 presents Sade’s plays and occasional verse written at the Charenton Asylum during the reign of Napoleon. The lunatic asylum provided Sade with a creative freedom that allowed him not only to conceive his most innovative and original work, but to stage it as well, using actors from the asylum and the professional theatre. The violence and eroticism of Sade’s infamous novels continue to be present in the plays, to such a degree that the asylum directors considered Sade’s theatre to be a dangerous threat to the inmates.
“[I]t is at the theatre rather than somewhere else that we must revive the almost extinguished flame of the love that every Frenchman owes his country; there is where he’ll be convinced of the dangers that would exist for him should he fall back into the hands of tyranny. He’ll carry home the enthusiasm and teach it to his family and its effects will be so much more durable, so much more passionate than the momentary inspirations of a newspaper article or proclamation because at the theatre, he learns the lesson by example, and he remembers it."
The Marquis de Sade
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