Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Where art thou, o my innocence?

Philosophy in the Boudoir
Marquis de Sade

I have a confession: I have judged a book by its cover.

But first let me say this: I am not a prude. I don’t object to porn – that is, when it’s labeled as such. I may not seek it out, but I’m not morally opposed to it. But when it’s passed off as “philosophy” – then that’s another story.

To be fair, Philosophy in the Boudoir was philosophic. But the philosophy was buried ugh too many sandwich jokes are coming ugh too many coming jokes are


Aherm. Let me start at the beginning. I liked the cover. I thought it was philosophy. Plus, "boudoir" is such an underrated word. So I bought the book. And, like any good reader of philosophy, I started with the introduction. But when the introduction gives away the ending, a scene of “brutal” and “truly sadistic rape,” I did what any good American would do – I skipped right to the end.

What met my poor beleaguered eyes was not so much philosophy as it was a glorification of every example of depraved behavior possible: incest, adultery, even murder. Look, I'm cool with many of the "depravities" praised by Sade: I love teh gays, so I don’t see sodomy as a problem. If you want to commit adultery be my guest, I don’t give a shit. S&M's not my bag, but whatever, baby. Neither do I care if you wanna fuck your brother, although that's just gross as far as I'm concerned. Go for it. But rape? Gang rape? Of your mother? For real?

I know how you feel, kid

You’re probably sitting there saying, “It’s the Marquis de Sade, you donkey. What did you expect?” But I saw ads for this book in several very respectable publications and the cover was just so quaint and I really didn’t think it would involve [don’t read if you’re squeamish] helping to gang rape your mother and then stitching her up to prevent any children from coming out among other things that I’m trying REALLY hard to forget and I think I might just throw out this book but I do have an aversion to throwing out books even though I did throw out that copy of the Necronomicon I was dumb enough to buy but that was for superstitious reasons and it gave me the willies just like Philosophy in the Boudoir so keeping that in mind maybe it would be okay to throw it out WHEW.

To prevent another system overload, let me at least attempt a brief overview: Philosophy in the Boudoir is a “play” written in seven “dialogues.” It begins when Madame de Saint-Ange receives notice that a young virgin, Eugenie, will soon be arriving to receive an “education” in the form of sexual awakening. Along with her brother and their friend, Dolmance, Saint-Ange will educate Eugenie in the ways of the world. Along the way, Sade drops in some of his "philosophy," namely that anything natural (and not surprisingly, Sade considers everything natural) is good.

Furthermore, Sade really doesn’t have a problem with any "sin"; he glorifies it all, even crimes like theft and murder. Regarding murder, he writes, "In short, murder is a horror, though a horror that is often necessary, never criminal, and indeed essential...the sole offense that a man can suicide."

Ah, so he does, at least, have one scruple.

Did I mention how charming the cover is? The artist is Tomer Hanuka. Yay for Tomer. Boo for Sade.

In a nutshell: My eyes! My eyes! Where art thou, o my innocence?

Bibliolatry Scale: 0 out of 6 stars


Erin said...

Yech doesn't sound too appealing. The spoiler sounds like a horrid scene.

Dustin said...

On the plus side, I think this is probably the book that inspired a good (albeit disturbing) chapter of Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles.”

Shane Moore said...

Reading fiction should be entertainment. I am not sure how gang raping one's mother should be entertaining. YUCK!

Dewey said...

But now that you have read it, you'll better understand all the Marquis de Sade satires everywhere. It'll be like when you're pregnant you see pregnant women everywhere. Now, though, you'll notice all the satires, even maybe see all the little goth teenagers differently.

Kristin Dodge said...

Dewey... that's why I'll someday force myself to read this.

But it has seriously been bumped down my list, thanks to this post.

Bibliolatrist said...

Dewey - I like your optimistic way of looking at things! I'm going to adopt this viewpoint whenever the final scene flashes before my eyes, which it does, still.

Of course, I now feel compelled to look up Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles," but I consider myself warned if it was inspired by this book. :)

Trisha said...

I'm so glad you pointed out this review to me! I have to admit you have made the book rather intriguing for me. Anything that can evoke such emotion - even if negative - intrigues me. :)