Honors College Thesis


"What Fools Call Crime": The Boundaries of the Pornographic Imagination in Sade’s La Philosophie dans le Boudoir Public Deposited

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  • On the surface, the written works of the Marquis de Sade appear to be nothing more than pornographic mania articulated, the narrative trajectory of which oscillates between illicit words and acts. Yet his life and works are important to historians, if not due to their inherent quality then because they were generated during the event which marked the birth of the modern era: the French Revolution. Sade’s life spanned the entire period of the French Revolution, and he died in the same year that Napoleon abdicated and the monarchy was restored in France. He stands on the threshold of the transition of the old and the new, the conversion of Western imagination. To understand Sade as a novelist and practitioner of the genre of the 18th century novel, one must first sort through the many connotations that arise from the mere mention of his name. Sade’s influence goes beyond the psychosexual interpretation that is used in modern discourse, and provides modern readers with a unique insight into French Revolutionary history, and the history of sexuality. Sade’s third novel, La Philosophie dans le boudoir, demonstrates a calculated fictionalization of this ideology, the reflection of a unique historical moment, and a compelling argument for the indissoluble nexus between history and fiction.
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