Nietzsche's Knowledge of the Marquis de Sade  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"Nietzsche's Knowledge of the Marquis de Sade" (2007) is an essay by Frank Cameron, the author of "Nietzsche and the 'Problem' of Morality", New York: Peter Lang, 2002.

In his classic essay, "Le marquis de sade et sa complice" (1946), Jean Paulhan claimed that Nietzsche had read and was influenced by the Marquis de Sade. A number of scholars, including Bataille, Phillips, and Bongie have followed Paulhan in noting this Sadean influence on Nietzsche's thought. My essay is intended as a corrective to this reading insofar as there is no textual evidence to suggest that Nietzsche read Sade. In reviewing Nietzsche's publications, notebooks, letters, and personal library, there is evidence suggesting only that Nietzsche would have encountered the name 'Sade' in his readings of other writers (e.g. Goncourts brothers, Hippolyte Taine, to name a few), but these sources do not provide any sustained discussion of Sade's philosophical views.
I devote the latter half of the essay to a comparison between Nietzsche and Sade's views on Christianity, sexuality, and politics. By noting some crucial dissimarilities between their philosophies, I am able to undermine the notion that Nietzsche could have read Sade 'secretively', and that he appropriated some of the former marquis' views. To this date, no one has challenged the veracity of Paulhan's reading.[1]





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