Letters from prison by Marquis de Sade (transl. Richard Seaver)  

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

Letters from prison by Marquis de Sade is a collection of letters written by Sade, translated by Richard Seaver.

From the publisher:

This volume of Sade's correspondence from prison covers a thirteen-year period, from 1777 when he was incarcerated in the Vincennes fortress near Paris, to 1789 when he was transferred from the Bastille shortly before it was stormed at the outset of the French Revolution, to the Charenton insane asylum, from which he was finally freed on April 2--Good Friday--1790. From ever danker and drearier cells, even as his health declined with each passing year, Sade wrote with supreme eloquence and increasing bitterness about the harsh conditions he was forced to endure, using his pen as a deadly weapon to lash out at his tormentors.

This collection includes letters to his devoted wife, Renée-Pélagie de Montreuil de Sade; to his hated mother-in-law, the présidente de Montreuil, who put him and kept him in jail; to Milli de Rousset, a woman of wit and spirit whom Sade admired and loved platonically; to his so-called friends; to his jailers; to business associates and employees. Sade flatters those from whom he seeks help or solace, vilifies those he disdains or who have brought him low. In these letters Sade rails at the hypocrisy of those who condemn him for "crimes" of which most of his peers--including many of his accusers--are just as guilty as he, while showing his wife a tenderness and care most people have never before associated with the oft-vilified marquis.

Impassioned, angry, querulous, plaintive, caustic, indignant, cajoling, pleading, self-justifying, Sade gives vent in these letters to his profoundest thoughts and opinions of the moment, offering brilliant and original insights about society, religion, morals, the body politic, and his fellow men--and women. These letters offer us a Sade without artifice or embellishment, freed of his stereotyped image--monster, demon, criminal, pervert, madman--displaying a more human--and humane--dimension, perhaps the most honest portrait we have of this remarkable, untamable man.

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