“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 2 presents Sade’s plays written in prison during the years that preceded and immediately followed the fall of the Bastille in 1789. The revolutionary spirit of the time inspired Sade to pen his only tragedy, a music drama, and a comedy anticipating the Romantics, calling for a relaxation of the classical rules. The violence and eroticism of Sade’s infamous novels are present in the plays, though in a lower dosage, obviously to render them accessible to public performance rather than private reading.
“[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