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The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings Paperback – January 10, 1994

3.4 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sade was one of the most radical minds in Western history, one that touched, with astonishing fusion of madness and cold rationality, on some of the most central aspects of psychic life... He remains a great, horrifying, but also vastly illuminating figure" Newsweek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 799 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reissue edition (January 10, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802130127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130129
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I wanted to contribute a review to correct some of the impressions readers may have gotten from other customers' reviews of 120 Days of Sodom. First of all, I do regard 120 Days as a masterpiece -- Sade's only masterpiece, and a dazzling contribution to world literature. I will spend the rest of this review hopefully providing 120 Day's future readers some keys to appreciate this mammoth, peculiar novel.
120 days is shocking, horrifying -- disgusting. This is pretty well universally agreed upon. This in itself says quite a lot. We live in a world where "shocking" has lost much of its meaning. Yet the Marquis De Sade continues to shock our jaded, supposedly unshockable sensibilities; if we want to read this book well, it's worth asking ourselves why. As Simone De Beauvoir says in her introduction to this edition, Sade was a good novelist -- and a great moralist.
One thing Sade definitely was not was a proselytizer for sexual freedom. The recent move "Quills" -- while not completely misleading on this point -- was still much too frivolous, too much of a French sex comedy ( and also too traditionally heterosexual ) to reflect the Sadean universe. Sade is not Henry Miller; with him, sexual freedom is not an issue. Power is. The powerful are sexually free. Sex interests Sade far less than pleasure, and pleasure for Sade can't exist without squashing the weak. An exemplar of the Sadean universe might be the Michael Douglass character from "Wall Street" except that now he knows that sex, even above money, is the ultimate fantasy thrill of power.
In other words, they coined the word "sadism" after him for good reasons!
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By A Customer on September 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
...the unique linguistic structure of this book. As legend has it, Sade wrote the entire novel on both sides of a huge roll of paper while imprionsed in the Bastille. Beginning it in the overwrought prose style common to his era and milieu, the Marquis found himself filling up paper more quickly than the plot was developing. Therefore -- as the "Passions" of the book's four main sections become increasingly more perverse and "sadistic" (there really oughta be a different word), the writing style begions to pare itself down in inverse proportion. By the end of the book, he has even abandoned basic sentence and paragraph structure, and simply lists what each day's increasingly vile atrocities are.
The strange effect inherent in all this is that as the reader reads on, he/she gradually takes over for Sade, supplying all the things which Sade leaves out, verbs and settings and dialogue and description. In the end, the reader has completely assumed the writer's job. Who, then, is guiltier of summoning such demons from the imagination -- the reader or the Marquis?
In it's own way (whether Sade consciously intended it or really did write the book that way because of lack of paper) "The 120 Days of Sodom" presents a trap as confounding as Blackbeard's feat of natural engineering on Oak Island.
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By A Customer on January 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
The 120 Days of Sodom is probably the worst book I have read by the Marquis de Sade. This is probably a great compliment to him as a writer because the book is still very good.
The 120 Days is the book that is usually known as De Sade's masterpiece, although he personally preffered Justine, a better story. Anyway, the story is simple. Several wealthy libertines take a retreat to a secret castle to engage in sinister acts. There victims are specially chosen people who suit their particular tastes and in most cases have been abducted to get there.
The story takes place over 30 days in which the libertines engage in every sexual indecency you can think of. The punishments for those who are do not perform adaquatly are violent and cruel and the book could easily be the most evil story ever conceived.
This should not be a deterrant for any mature reader. Those who want to spite De Sade will have an easy time taking shots at the sexual superficialities of the book. Anyone who tries to read and understand the book will discover it to be rich in ingenius philisophical ideas.
The 120 Days is, admittedly, an arduous task to get through and is not De Sade's best work. The story unfortunatly is predictable juggling sexual escapades with philisophical matters.
De Sade's best work remains Eugenie de Franvale, Philosophy in the Bedroom and Justine.
The short work in this book entitled Florville de Courval is the best part of the collection and makes the book worth buying instantly. It tells the tale of a poor women who's life has been plagued by misfortune, a theme dealt with in Justine. Her misfortunes accumulate at the ending into the ultimate in ironic finales. The story is only 75 pages long but is brilliant in every sense.
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Format: Paperback
I haven't read this book since the first time more than twenty years ago - and it was damned hard to get hold of then. Never had I thought at the time of reading that even someone with the reputation of de Sade could construct something with such a force of indifferent cruelty and total absence of any sort of moral restriction. The 'buggers' in it particularly fascinated me - their explicit orders as to mode of dress(!) and daily, er, functions literally burned themselves into my memory. Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm no S/M adherent, but the way de Sade wrote this, the descent (ascent?) into ritualised debauchery and sexually taboo areas becomes hypnotic and, as has been mentioned, almost a 'shopping list' of the day's events. You're held in by the fact that you cannot conceive of anything more perverted or downright weird going on - but read the book and find out - IT MAY CHANGE YOUR LIFE! It really is a view of the world and the human condition - try Luke Reinhardt's 'The Diceman' which deals with the same subject from albeit a very different angle........
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