2 December 2011

The Marquis de Sade in the Château de Vincennes, 12th arrondissement: Literary Île-de-France #48

The dungeon of the château de Vincennes, where the Marquis de Sade (1740—1812) was imprisoned in 1777, then from 1778 to 1784, after which he was transferred to the Bastille. He was known as 'Monsieur le 6' after the number of his cell. In the Bastille, he began writing his first important work — Cent vingt journées de sodome (One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom). Simone de Beauvoir remarked that he went into prison a man, and came out a writer.

In 1789, after yelling out of his prison window that the Bastille was slitting prisoners' throats and killing them, he was transferred to Charenton insane asylum and released in 1790.

Sade was later to spend years in Charenton — where he put on plays ­ — after clandestinely publishing a number of 'obscene' books.

A man long associated with torture, flagellation, incest and rape among other horrors, the word 'sadisme' entered the French dictionary in 1834.

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