Histoire de Juliette, ou les Prospérités du vice / The Story of Juliette, or Vice Amply Rewarded by Sade (1800)

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Histoire de Juliette, ou les Prospérités du vice / The Story of Juliette, or Vice Amply Rewarded by Sade (1800)


Sade, Donatien Alphonse François de. Histoire de Juliette, ou les Prospérités du vice. 6 vols. En Hollande, 1797 [Bruxelles: Poulet-Malassis or Gay (?), c1865-1870]. Kinsey Institute Library: missing.


The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), undoubtedly the most controversial French writer to date, spent most of his adult life in prison, because of his sexual and violent behavior, as well as the sexual and violent mores depicted in his books (hence the word sadism), including The 120 Days of Sodom (1785) and Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795). The Story of Juliette, or Vice Amply Rewarded, published in 1800 while Sade was enjoying temporary freedom during the French Revolution, is the continuation of Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue (1791), considered the antithesis of Samuel Richardson’s moral novel Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740). While young and innocent Justine is repeatedly sexually abused and assaulted in her pursuit of virtue, her older and depraved sister Juliette is always happily rewarded after committing serial murders and other crimes. After the anonymous publication of both novels, under the title La Nouvelle Justine, in ten volumes illustrated with a hundred explicit engravings in 1799-1800, Sade was arrested by order of Napoleon in 1801 and imprisoned in the asylum of Charenton, where died thirteen years later. The publication of Sade’s works, one of the most radical literary experiments, was prohibited in France until 1957 (even if illegal editions, including the one exhibited here, had been widely circulated since the 18th century), when the publisher Jean-Jacques Pauvert was acquitted of the charge of “outrage aux bonnes mœurs” [affront to public decency] for publishing Sade’s novels. These works, though still controversial, are now part of the French literary canon. The first American paperback edition of Juliette was published by Grove Press in 1968. The couplet on the title page of the French original edition, attributed to Petronius, states that “On n’est point criminel pour faire la peinture / Des bizarres penchans qu’inspire la nature” [A man is hardly a criminal for depicting the bizarre inclinations inspired by nature].

First edition: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1040628d