Marquis de Sade on Perverse Writers

Marquis de Sade on Perverse Writers

As I was finishing the first drafts of the third part of SICK, I picked up the infamous Marquis de Sade. I had been wanting to read him for years. Would he be as depraved as I had been told?

The first thing I noticed was the similarities between his characters’ (or de Sade’s) logic and the philosphies of John Branch (my MC). I never read de Sade before, but hundreds of years later, the argument between nature and religion is the same. Do we live according to the instincts and impulses we were born with, or do we live according to what society deems as acceptable?

Despite the obsessive focus on anal sex and the tiresome naïveté of the protagonist, who, though heroic, gets duped time and time again, de Sade writes with admirable zeal and devotion. Most surprisingly, I felt an undertone of love throughout his writing for every facet of this confusing existence we humans face.

But of all the quotes I collected from my readings, I thought my fellow writers, those who are brave enough to go to the darkest depths of the human psyche and those who aren’t afraid to explore the places others dare not tread, would appreciate this one the most.

“…he is like unto those perverse writers whose corruption is so dangerous, so active, that their single aim is, by causing their appalling doctrines to be printed, to immortalize the sum of their crimes after their own lives are at an end; they themselves can do no more, but their accursed writings will instigate the commission of crimes, and they carry this sweet idea with them to their graves: it comforts them for the obligation, enjoined by death, to relinquish the doing of evil.”

 

I believe de Sade is taking stab at himself here. No doubt the public thought he wrote solely for these reasons, and he was mocking them. It was obvious to me that his drive to write was fueled by a calling much more profound than the reasons he mentions here, though I’m sure the thought of his ideas propogating into the future put a smirk on his face at the time of his death.

Since I first began writing, I often wonder why I go to such dark places. I never expected or intended to. I outlined my theories in this post here. But, I think what is important about de Sade and books like SICK, is to face the ugliest of humanity, to seek the truth no matter how horrific it is. No matter how hard we close our eyes, our sins will not go away. Sex slavery still exists. War, torture, and vice persist. There has been no decrease in the atrocities of the human world since de Sade’s time. That is why we still must write about them. That is why we must rip off the covers we hold so tightly to our chins. Maybe one day we will figure out why we keep harming each other, why we keep destroying the world, and and we continue denying the truth about ourselves.

 

 

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Writer Crush Wednesday: Leo Tolstoy

Writer Crush Wednesday Leo Tolstoy.jpg

This Writer Crush Wednesday, I’m sharing a passage from a book I finally read last year. Yes, last year! But this excerpt is so good I’m still thinking about these few paragraphs months and months later. I’ll probably always think about them. They’re from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina at the very moment Anna and Count Vronsky succumb to their passions. I won’t ruin it by trying to explain all that’s going on here. Just read.


He felt what a murderer must feel, when he sees the body he has robbed of life. That body, robbed by him of life, was their love, the first stage of their love. There was something awful and revolting in the memory of what had been bought at this fearful price of shame. Shame at their spiritual nakedness crushed her and infected him. But in spite of all the murderer’s horror before the body of his victim, he must hack it to pieces, hide the body, must use what he has gained by his murder.

And with fury, as it were with passion, the murderer falls on the body, and drags it and hacks at it; so he covered her face and shoulders with kisses. She held his hand, and did not stir. “Yes, these kisses–that is what has been bought by this shame. Yes, and one hand, which will always be mine–the hand of my accomplice.” She lifted up that hand and kissed it. He sank on his knees and tried to see her face; but she hid it, and said nothing. At last, as though making an effort over herself, she got up and pushed him away. Her face was still as beautiful, but it was only the more pitiful for that.

“All is over,” she said; “I have nothing but you. Remember that.”


This is how I want to write when I grow up.

What do you think of this passage?

Have you read Anna Karenina?

What writers have blown you away?

Writer Crush Wednesday: Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

Do you ever come across a passage in a book that makes you stop and marvel at the genius of the writer? I’m going to be sharing my favorite lines with you on Writer Crush Wednesdays. I’m reading The Handmaid’s Tale right now. This is my first Margaret Atwood book and I’m astonished by her writing. I’ve selected an excerpt to share with you. Notice how skillfully she describes a face.

A little of her hair was showing, from under her veil. It was still blond. I thought then that maybe she bleached it, that hair dye was something else she could get through the black market, but I know now that it really is blond. Her eyebrows were plucked into thin arched lines, which gave her a permanent look of surprise, or outrage, or inquisitiveness, such as you might see on a startled child, but below them her eyelids were tired-looking. Not so her eyes, which were the flat hostile blue of a midsummer sky in bright sunlight, a blue that shuts you out. Her nose must once have been what was called cute but now was too small for her face. Her face was not fat but it was large. Two lines led downward from the corners of her mouth; between them was her chin, clenched like a fist. 

The chin really got me. The description also says a great deal about the character’s personality.

Take notes, fellow writers! There is no doubt this is the work of a master.

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