A must-see

article | Temps de Lecture2 min

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, the "Divine Marquis" (1740-1814)

There is no evidence today that Donatien came to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to stay in his grandfather's mansion, but he is a direct descendant of Balthazar de Sade.

Born in Paris in 1740 to an ancient Provencal family, the man who went down in history as the sulphurous Marquis de Sade. 
His father, Jean-Baptiste, left Provence to pursue a career at Court. He entered the service of the Prince de Condé and married a lady-in-waiting of the princess, the better to seduce her. A libertine and a man of spirit, Louis de Sade lived a dissipated life before finding his way to piety.

The young Donatien was raised in part by his uncle, Abbé Jacques de Sade, at the Château de Saumane-de-Vaucluse. With this cultured uncle, who was just as libertine as his brother, young Donatien was introduced to literature, Enlightenment philosophy and libertinism.
At the age of 10, he entered the Louis le Grand College, where he discovered theater. Four years later, he was accepted at the Versailles Light Horse School, and at 16 he took part in the Seven Years' War.
He quickly earned a reputation as a libertine, even a debauchee, but also as a cultured and refined man.

In 1763, he married Renée de Montreuil and settled at Château de Lacoste, in the Lubéron, near Apt, where he undertook major embellishment work. This marriage, followed by the birth of his first son, did little to restore the Marquis to the path of wisdom, moderation and temperance. Scandals multiplied, culminating in his arrest and imprisonment in 1777. He remained a prisoner at Vincennes then at the Bastille until 1790. It was during this period that the Marquis de Sade began an extraordinary literary career.

He spent the rest of his life in the Charenton asylum in the Île-de-France region, where he died in 1814.

Although Sade's erotic and pornographic novels are still remembered, thanks to Apollinaire and the Surrealists who rediscovered them in the 20th century, it would be an overstatement to reduce the work of the Divine Marquis to this. Sade was at once a playwright, a philosopher and a political thinker committed to the French Revolution.

The black legend of Sade is only part of the character and his work.

Portrait présumé du marquis de Sade
Portrait présumé du marquis de Sade

© Gallica BnF

à découvrir aussi