You are on page 1of 76 Search inside document Justine or The Misfortunes Of Virtue Justine Or The Misfortunes of Virtue By the Marquis de Sade The ultimate triumph of philosophy would be to cast light upon the mysterious ways in which Providence moves to achieve the designs it has for man, and then to deduce therefrom some plan of conduct which would enable that two-legged wretch, forever buffeted by the whims of the Supreme Being who is said to direct his steps no less despotically, to know how to interpret what Providence decrees for him and to select a path to follow which would forestall the bizarre caprices of the Fate to which a score of different names are given but whose nature is still uncertain. For if, taking social conventions as our starting-point and remaining faithful to the respect for them which education has bred in us, it should by mischance occur that through the perversity of others we encounter only thorns while evil persons gather nothing but roses, then will not a man, possessed of a stock of virtue insufficient to allow him to rise above the thoughts inspired by these unhappy circumstances, calculate that he would do as well to swim with the torrent as against it? And will he not say that when virtue, however fine a thing it be, unhappily proves too weak to resist evil, then virtue becomes the worst path he can follow, and will he not conclude that in an age that is utterly corrupt, the best policy is to do as others do? And will he not add of his own accord that, since in the imperfect fabric of this corrupt world of ours there is a sum of evil equal to the sum of good, the continuing equilibrium of the world requires that there be as many good people as wicked people, and that it follows that in the general scheme of things it matters not if such and such a man be good or wicked; that since misfortune persecutes virtue, and prosperity is the almost invariable accompaniment of vice a matter of complete indifference to Nature , then is it not infinitely better to side with the wicked who prosper than with the good who perish?
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Having watched documentaries about De Sade which depicted him as a dribbling sot in an institution for the insane, I had expected De Sade is obviously no fool, and his arguments are intelligently put. In this novel, De Sade still conforms to Victorian norms in the respect that even libertine, rebellious De Sade felt he had to wrap everything he said in euphemistic terms, in spite of the fact that the content of the novel and the gist of his rhetoric would indeed have been wildly shocking to most Victorian sensibilities.
Compared to certain contemporary literature, such as some of the works of authors like Palanuik, for example in his novel Snuff , also, various writings of J.
Ballard, Samuel R. Justine is the quintessential sad sac of the ages. De Sade paints her as a poor meek little thing who, according to him, deserves her end because of her continued piousness.
His rhetoric is of course completely distorted, but one does get a sense that she possibly unwittingly or subconsciously invites victimhood. De Sade subverts a very common trope, by having a punishment that is usually visited upon sinners, strike down the innocent instead.
One often has to wonder why a lightning bolt never came down from heaven to strike the sinful Marquis himself down. I liked that at least De Sade does not try to justify sadism as anything else than what it really is. He removes all the cobwebby romanticism, the smarmy treacle that these proclivities tend to be marinated in in popular fiction.
Proper review to follow when time permits.
- Justine or the Misfortunes of Virtue
It is a novella pages with relatively little of the obscenity that characterized his later writing, as it was written in the classical style which was fashionable at the time , with much verbose and metaphorical description. This final version, La Nouvelle Justine, departed from the first-person narrative of the previous two versions, and included around engravings. The two together formed 10 volumes of nearly pages in total; publication was completed in Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the arrest of the anonymous author of Justine and Juliette, and as a result de Sade was incarcerated for the last 13 years of his life. Modern publication[ edit ] There is standard edition of this text in hardcover, having passed into the public domain. A censored English translation of Justine was issued in the US by the Risus Press in the early s, and went through many reprintings.
Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue