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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2004
I'm writing this to balance out the nay-saying. I think the Totem series is fairly hit or miss. It depends on whomever is handling the info. For example, their `Introducing Machiavelli' and `Introducing Descartes,' are remarkably wonderful. Then you have, `Introducing Postmodernism,' and `Introducing Baudrilliard,' both of which suck, in my humble opinion. I don't know- the closer that Totem gets to the 20th C, the more they tend to fail... Their books on Wittgenstein and Nietzsche, for example, are on the good side of decent... With Foucault, Heidegger and Barthes, they really loose some steam (surprisingly, I like the Deridda book immensely, which stands out...)
`Introducing De Sade' stands easily in the former category. It's simply great! It is a dense, worthwhile and illuminating effort that succeeds in every way. It puts the man in his Enlightenment context, contrasting him with other thinkers of his era. It gives a thorough biographical account of his life and his work's chronological development. It also handles later writer's use and misuse of De Sade.
I'm a big fan of this book for a number of reasons.
1. There isn't much out there on De Sade that provides a suitable introduction to him (and his novels are nigh-unendurable, in terms of their tedious repetitions and long-winded philosophical discourse. You HAVE to be in it for the long haul to plod through them).
2. De Sade is still a very neglected thinker, despite the fact that he was honest and highly original. This book looks at each of his main works and seeks to understand them on their own ground. Then it attempts to flesh out the underlying systematic philosophy behind the pornography, succeeding admirably I think.
Ultimately, I just don't understand all the negative reviews. The book is a humorous discussion, but an honest and thorough one nonetheless. I don't think the book makes fun of `De Sade,' and even if were to do so, that would be preferable to the treatment the Marquis receives from comp lit purveyors around the globe- coddling him and treating him as a `moralist,' who `really didn't mean it.' De Sade dressed up as a moralist is about as funny as Hitler dressed up as a nun. He spent a good portion of hislife incarcerated and I can guarantee that he meant every (...) word! Which reminds me, there are lots of improper and naughty pictures in this, ohhhh! Beware.
At any rate, If you don't know much about this controversial and fascinating figure- this is the best place to start, I think.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2001
I recomend this book to anyone who is interested in the Marquis de Sade. I read it after I'd already read his four major novels, and a biography on him, and still found it a delightful read. The book provides a detailed biography on the Marquis, and covers and discusses indepth the messages the Marquis was trying to get accross in his four major novels, as well as his infamous dialogue "Confessions Between a Priest and a Dying Man." The book also briefly touches on famous people who were inspired by de Sade, and how his work continues to effect the modern age. Introducing the Marquis de Sade is brilliantly illustrated with humerous and fun pictorials of the Marquis, people in his life, and scenes from his works. The illustrations often involve scenes of sadomasochism and masturbation, so be warned.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2002
I've just completed this book. I do feel it was extremely helpful in providing me with an overall introduction to Sade, and also in helping me to determine whether or not I wish to pursue the man and his writings.
While I consider myself an eclectic freethinker, I don't go in for something "just because" it may be vastly unusual or "off the wall." In short, Sade's sexuality isn't my cup of tea. He seems to presume that his sexuality was easily anyone's cup of tea, given that the characters portrayed in his novels seem to either instantly like to be humiliated and subjected to pain, or that they don't mind one way or the other (yeah, right). Stuart Hood, the author of this book, points out that Sade's descriptions of sexual encounters are "cold and mechanical." Sexuality for many people may be simple fulfillment of lust (nothing wrong with that, btw), but for many others as well there must be a component of affection, tenderness, and warmth (I'm in the latter category). The most peculiar aspect of Sade's sexual attitudes are the seeming misanthropy of it all; it's as if his characters are absolutely hateful and cold schemers, who set about projecting their self-loathing onto others. How would these stories have been viewed if it were animals subjected to these sorts of situations instead of young human females and males?
Most disturbing to me is Sade's justification of murder. If done in a SELF-DEFENSIVE situation, murder can be justified. But Sade seems to have thought that "just plain" murder was okay, as it serves as part of Nature's destructive aspect. While I acknowledge destruction as being part and parcel of the way in which the universe operates (it is the necessary opposite complement of creation), I think Sade confuses Natural Selection with Artificial Selection. In other words, if a lightning bolt strikes a person and kills him, that's Natural Selection. But the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks and murders on the WTC and Pentagon were Artificial Selection -- premeditated murder by humans who made the plan to do it. There is a difference here.
On the other hand, Sade was said to have been horrified by the massacres of the early 1790s, relative to the French political upset at the time. He seemed to decry the senseless butchery, and even assisted in sparing his hated in-laws from the guillotine. If he believed any sort of murder whatsoever was simply part of Nature, one has to wonder why he was disturbed by all the killing around him.
Sade did, at one point, make a stand for female sexual freedom via one of his male novel characters. He asserted a woman's body is hers to enjoy as she likes, and that she needn't be a "slave to her family." On the other hand, most of the victims portrayed in his novels were helpless females. Go figure. I think his early abandonment by his mother was a major element at play in this man's psyche.
This is an interesting book, and I do recommend it. Sade is the most strangely complex person I've ever read about. I hope this review has been helpful for you.
Fight Censorship!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2003
I read this book in preparation for directing a stage production of "Quills", a play based on the Marquis de Sade. Overall, It was worth the money. I had to go a lot further with my studies, but this book was a good primer, because it condensed his life into a quick read. If you just want an opening impression of the man and the myth, I would recommend this book. If you want a more critical analysis of his work you will need to look elsewhere.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2004
this is a prett good intro to de sade, especially given the fatc that there's not much else out there to do it. It's no substitute for the man's writings, especially his letters, which i recommend over this. angela carter's 'the sadean woman,' is a good read too, as is de beauvior's 'must we burn de sade?'
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2001
While this would be a good book for someone who had not previously read about de Sade's life, it probably won't be of much interest for those who are more familiar with him. This book didn't tell me anything I hadn't already read elsewhere, and I could have done without all the drawings. It wasn't the content of the pictures that bothered me, but the fact that most of the time they took up a majority of the page, and in some cases there were only two or three lines of text. I had expected a few illustrations in a more 18th century style, not something that was mostly all pictures drawn in a more comic book style. For those looking for more well researched ways to learn about de Sade and his life, I would recommend "Letters From Prison", "At Home With the Marquis de Sade", or "Must We Burn Sade". In "Introducing Marquis de Sade" there is definitely some interesting artwork, but there is too much of it in most places, to the point where it distracts from the text.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2002
This book seems to make fun of the Marquis de Sade more than anything else. I justify that statement by referring the reviewer to the puerile drawings and statements that are found throughout this book. To focus on de Sade's pornography is to misunderstand what it is all about. However, this book does give a brief insight into the heart of de Sade's work. Yet for the little it offers, it distracts too much by the author and illustrator trying to be witty, which they completely fail to do (which is a trend with this whole series of books). If you want an insight into de Sade's work or a retracing of the events in his life, pick up a more academic book like a thoroughly researched biography, which exists. The only reason I bought this book is for posterities sake because you cannot find it in a bookstore. Read de Sade's actual stories first, then get an intelligent, "grown-up" version of literary criticism. Do not rely on this book to give you anything other than a headache from its cheap porn-based drawings.
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on January 7, 2014
Short review:

1. Did I enjoy this book? No.
2. Would I recommend it? No.
3. Highlight: The little analysis of his works that is included is interesting.
4. Low point: Every page has an obscene, badly drawn cartoon that takes up three quarters of the space.

NOTE: I mean what I said about the cartoons - they're terrible drawings that take up 75% of every single page in the entire book.

Long review:

This book, purely for lack of value for money, is terrible. The writing included is interesting, easily understood, and would make a good intro to the Marquis de Sade . . . if the pictures were removed. The book is 174 pages long, but writing only takes up the equivalent of 43 pages. Therefore, unless you're getting it very cheap, avoid this book - it's not worth the money.

Recommended: 'The Marquis de Sade' by Gilbert Lely
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