Thursday, October 25, 2007

John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, compared to the Marquis de Sade

Both were libertines but were radically different for one simple reason: de Sade's sexuality was not consensual while although Rochester's was thoroughly sexist it still was. As one author on the subject of the sexual fringe noted, the lack of consent in de Sade's writings actually makes them less appealing to people engaged in BD/SM than those of other, less famous, writers. This is the dirty little secret of the Marquis de Sade, one of the reasons why his books were banned for so long, and the reason that he got in trouble. The reason he was arrested, according to that sage source Wikipedia, was that at his estate in his hometown of La Coste he repeatedly raped his servants, who fled his service one after the other. The incident that lead to his arrest consisted of him enticing a local young lady to come back to his castle with him, holding her against her will, severely beating her, repeatedly raping her, then pouring hot candle wax over her wounds in an attempt to cauterize and somewhat conceal them so that people wouldn't be able to tell what sort of thing lead to them. This is why time after time commentors on de Sade say that his books are best read as stories about power instead of stories to get you off, with practically everyone noting that theoretically you could get off on them, but it would sort of not be a good thing if you did.

That's the sort of secret of de Sade. I remember that I belonged to this film society in Florida that showed movies and had discussions of them afterwards. One of the films they showed was "Quills", which is about the Marquis de Sade during his imprisonment in an asylum. The portrayal of de Sade and his works makes them out to be both nice and gently kinky, with the main love interest at one point clutching a copy of "Justine" to her chest and smiles dreamily. During the discussion after the film I asked if anyone had really read de Sade, because film was pretty naive in the picture it painted of him. Someone said that they admired his will to keep on writing under difficult circumstances.

I have works be de Sade, so it isn't like I'm advocating banning him, but am saying that there's more objectionable things to Sade than just kinky sex, which wouldn't be a problem in this day and age.

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