The Ghosts of Sodom

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  • Edition: Revised
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-01-31
  • Publisher: Scb Distributors
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The secret journal which the Marquis de Sade risked severe punishment in order to maintain, even when ill and ageing at Charenton asylum, reveals the shadowy life of an exceptional, complex man whose philosophies and works are legendary. In the "hospitalprison" of Charenton, under a liberal regime of surveillance, Sade's days were slow and grim, full of mundane preoccupations, worries about money, quarrels with the people around him - but were also lit up by the sordid, secret episodes of a final erotic adventure: the last flames of his passion, an affirmation of life even as death approached, darkening the colours of his life and tearing apart his feelings. Only the first (1807-8) and fourth (1814) of these notebooks have been rediscovered, out of a series of four; they are now presented in English for the very first time, along with the first translation of "Phantoms", a short but extraordinary anti-religious polemic retrieved from Sade's Charenton working notes of 1803.THE GHOSTS OF SODOM also includes a selection of Sade's letters from Charenton, as well as the working notes for his terminal novel "The Days At Florbelle" - a huge manuscript seized at Charenton in 1807 and deemed so pornographic that it was burned by the police at the behest of Sade's own son. Also included are Sade's last will and testament, a Sade bibliography, and a full chronology of his life, plus the rare essay "De Sade: A Study In Algolagnia" by Montague Summers.


Sade's Charenton diaries were first published in France in 1970, following their discovery in the Sade family archives. They consist of two cahiers or notebooks, the first of which covers the period June 1807 to August 1808, the second 18th July to 30th November, 1814. The second notebook, then, extends to just two days before Sade's death on December 2nd, 1814. Other surviving material from the Charenton years include a small number of letters (Pauvert reprints fourteen of these which include the 'Final Proposals Made to My Family' of 1805 and the much commented 'Last Will and Testament' of 1806) and notes for The Days At Florbelle, Sade's only libertine work of the period the manuscript of which was ordered to be burnt by Sade's younger son, Donatien-Claude-Armand, together with some other documents which he considered might cause embarrassment to the family. The letters Sade wrote from prison from 1778 up to his release in 1790 have been extensively worked on. The Charenton letters and diaries, however, have in the past attracted little critical attention and no systematic English translation of this material has been published before. Even Sade's notes on The Days At Florbelle have drawn little more than passing comment from even the most assiduous of Sade scholars. This new edition will, then, make available to readers of English writing that could in the past be accessed by readers of French alone. There may be a number of reasons for this neglect, and I will suggest three main ones. Firstly, the diary entries themselves are often notoriously hard to interpret, full of puzzling and enigmatic abbreviations, mysterious allusions, infuriating non-sequiturs and coded or veiled uses of language and, especially, of numbers. All of these features present both critic and translator with serious challenges. Secondly, only two of the four cahiers that originally made up Sade's diary output during the Charenton years have survived, numbers 2 and 3 having no doubt been destroyed. Georges Daumas draws our attention to the chronological discontinuity between these two documents: between the first cahier of 1807-8 and the fourth of 1814. Daumas conjectures that no 2 was confiscated by the police (Pauvert adds that this probably occurred on June 5th 1807) and that no 3 was seized, together with other writings (eg, the manuscript of a play entitled La Tour Mystérieuse) by M. de Coulmier's successor as director of the hospice, Roulhac du Maupas ....

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