De Sade Is Now A National Treasure
It’s a good question, and an important question. Can a literary work be morally repugnant and still be important, worthy of preservation? I don’t think the vast majority of people would disagree that much that passes for “Art” nowadays is anything more other than trash, destined to be forgotten and having no cultural or sociological value whatsoever. But what about MEIN KAMPF? Should we have buried it, or is it right to continue to study it? The same applies to the works of the Marquis De Sade.
In case you didn’t know, the word “sadism” derives from Mr. De Sade. The French libertine and degenerate was a prolific writer who penned some of the foulest cruelties ever to grace paper. Yet by and large he seems to have confined his atrocities to the written word instead of acting them out in real life. (He did supposedly bite a woman’s nipple off, though.) If the works were JUST violent–very violent–pornography, we could easily dismiss them. But there is political satire and social commentary in there, too. I have read Sade. I read *some* of THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM. It got to be too much and I put it aside. It’s awful. But France now recognizes it as a national treasure. Is it? I’d have to say yes. It’s vile and unpalatable, but it is also an historical artifact and societal touchstone. It should be preserved. Not necessarily READ, except by students of anti-social psychology, but preserved. Any of you ever tried it?