Aline and Valcour  

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 This page Aline and Valcour is part of the Marquis de Sade series  Illustration: Portrait fantaisiste du marquis de Sade (1866) by H. Biberstein
This page Aline and Valcour is part of the Marquis de Sade series
Illustration: Portrait fantaisiste du marquis de Sade (1866) by H. Biberstein

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Aline et Valcour; ou, Le Roman philosophique is an epistolary novel by the Marquis De Sade. It contrasts a brutal African kingdom with a utopian South Pacific island paradise known as Tamoé and led by the philosopher-king Zamé.

Sade wrote the book while incarcerated in the Bastille in the 1780s. Published in 1795, it was the first of Sade's books published under his own name.

It partly takes its plot from Clarissa.

Several authors have put forward that the account Valcour, the hero, gives of himself at the beginning of the novel is autobiographical. Gorer has noted in The Revolutionary Ideas of the Marquis de Sade:

"the details have nothing to do with the plot and correspond so entirely with what we know of de Sade that it is justifiable to treat them as autobiographical."


The book was translated into English, German, Spanish and Japanese. An English version can be found in Selected writings of De Sade (New York 1954), translated by Leonard de Saint-Yves.

An essay titled "Observations on Aline and Valcour" by Alice Laborde appeared in the collection Sade, his ethics and rhetoric by Colette Verger Michael, New York 1989.

Blank darkness: Africanist discourse in French by Christopher L Miller (Chicago 1985) contains a chapter titled "No one's novel: Sade's Aline et Valcour".

Notes by Ashbee

From Ashbee's Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Ashbee) (1877)

" Aline et Valcour " is a powerful and original work, and considering that it was written before the French Revolution, must be pronounced a very remarkable one. Steeped as he was in all the vices of his class, Sade foresaw clearly, and prophecied plainly what would be the result.

" O France ! tu l'éclaireras un jour, je l'espère: l'énergie de tes citoyens brisera bientôt le sceptre du despotisme et de la tyrannie, et foulant à tes pieds les scélérats qui servent l'un et l'autre, tu sentiras qu'un peuple libre par la nature et par son génie, ne doit être gouverné que

par lui-même." (Vol. 2, p. 41). "Une grande révolution se prépare dans ta patrie (France) ; les crimes de vos souverains, leurs cruelles exactions, leurs débauches et leur ineptie ont lassé la France ; elle est excédée du despotisme, elle est à la veille d'en briser les fers." (vol. 2, p. 448).

and many other similar passages.

The work from an artistic point of view has grave defects, it is altogether too long ; making every allowance for the digressions and philosophical tirades, the tale itself is told with top much verbosity, and is drawn out to a length altogether out of proportion to its importance ; besides, by adopting the epistolary form, the author has fettered himself, and the narration becomes frequently awkward and improbable.

Throughout, and at nearly every page, Sade indulges in the exposition of his various theories on government, morality, education, political economy, relation of the sexes, &c, and, extravagant and outrageous as his notions frequently are, some of them are well worth consideration.

In vol. 2 are depicted two kingdoms, the entire opposites of each other — Butua, the epitome of all that is vile and degrading, where every conceivable crime is practiced, and openly en- couraged; and Tamoé, a communistic Utopia, where virtue, prosperity, and happiness flourish without alloy. Both descriptions are remarkable ; that of Butua is especially forcible.

The editor informs us (p. x) that the work includes the " trois genres : comique, sentimental, et erotique ;" of the former there is but little, if any, the sentiment is generally forced, unnatural, stilted, but the erotic portion demands a closer consideration.

In " Aline and Valcour " we find much the same characters as in " Justine et Juliette " — the president de Blamont, cruel, sophistical, and indulging in every vice, even to incest ; Aline virtuous, obedient, modest, persecuted constantly, until she destroys herself rather than suffer the embraces of an old libertine, to whom the father intends to marry her, in order that he may share with his friend the possession of his own daughter; Sophie has much the same character as Aline, and suffers equally with her; whereas Rose and Léonore are vicious by nature, and love depravity for its own sake ; the latter prospers, and may be classed as a pendant to Juliette.

But we do not here assist at the wild, sickening, impossible orgies of " Justine et Juliette," but view libertinism rather in the family circle, and see its effects upon a wife and daughters ; it is here less revolting, but more capable of being practised, and therefore far more dangerous.*

Valcour, however, is but a sorry hero, who is entirely passive throughout the whole book, and displays no decided quality, either positive or negative.

Extracts from " Aline and Valcour " were afterwards incorporated in two other novels, "Valmor et Lydia," 1798; and "Alzonde et Koradin, 1799."

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Aline and Valcour" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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