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The Torture Garden

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,571 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
Once described as "the most sickening work of art of the nineteenth century," Mirbeau's classic novel follows a young man's journey to the ends of desire and depravity in a garden in China where torture is practiced as a work of art.
Paperback, 212 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Bookkake (first published 1899)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
This one is defeating me as far as creating a formal review is concerned, so let me just instead tell you why I stuck with it, and why I may have been in a prime position to enjoy it as much as I did. Well, 'enjoy' is probably not the right word, because it is certainly not tons of fun to read. It's sexually-charged violence which explores the fork-tongued, heads-in-the-sand nature of the West in relation to its methods of maintaining order, punishing crime, and Civilizing the Natives the world ...more
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonfaith by: Paquita Maria Sanchez
Monsters, monsters! But there are no monsters! What you call monsters are superior forms, or forms beyond your understanding. Aren't the gods monsters? Isn't a man of genius a monster, like a tiger or a spider, like all individuals who live beyond social lies, in the dazzling and divine immortality of things? Why, I too then, am a monster.

Curious about The Torture Garden? You may need a tall absinthe and a dearth of holiday cheer for a proper appreciation. That is not entirely accurate. Unlike t
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bitchin
I am of the opinion that sadistic and masochistic impulses exist within everyone, but that often one or the other is more pronounced. What is interesting about these impulses, however, is that people are generally more comfortable with accepting, or acknowledging, the pleasure they experience as a consequence of their own pain than they are the pleasure gained from the pain of others. This is, you might argue, because the former is more socially acceptable; to enjoy being hurt, even to an extrem ...more
Tim Pendry
This is a remarkable book, a brilliant book, a powerful book but two warnings are in order for the general reader.

The first is the more obvious one. The second half contains descriptions of sadistic torture and of erotic responses to cruelty that are remarkably frank and will be disturbing to most people.

Nothing is spared. Do not pick up this book if you cannot draw the essential mental distinction between reality and the imagination.

As for the second, it is also only fair to warn that this is
Yasemin Şahin
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yabancı-roman
1899'da yazılan ve 19.yy'ın en mide bulandırıcı kitabı olarak nitelenen roman.
Avrupalının ayıbı Doğu ülkelerinin merhametsizlikleriyle örtüştürmek maksatlı yazılmamıştır bu kitap.
Ya da dünya insanları işkenceyi romanda görsün de değildir olay.
Çin'de bir bahçe, o bahçe ki yaşadığımız dünyadan farksız, otlu böcekli, ağaçlı olmayı bırak insan ve kan kaynayan...
Ne diyorduk, Çin'de bir bahçe, İşkence Bahçesi, evet ya Çin işkencesi...
Bir eğlence parkı, stres atıp kahkahalarla yırtınacağınız bir mekan
MJ Nicholls
One of the seminal texts of the decadent movement, presented here with that fucking abomination of a cover (excuse the swear, only . . . LOOK AT THAT THING), has still not been canonised in a Penguin or Oxford Classic. Their loss. Mirbeau’s novel centres around Clara, a small waif for whom love and death are inseparable, leading our hapless hero around a tour of Chinese torture sites and prisons, unable to convert to the inherent loveliness of starved animals in cages being thrown lumps of meat ...more
Böyle şeylere sabrım da sinirlerim de midem de yetersiz kalıyor artık. Oda Hizmetçisinin Günlüğü'nü sevince bunu da okuyayım dedim ama ıhh. Ergenken Amerikan Sapığı'nı çok da etkilenmeden okuduğum düşünülürse, bu kitabı okumam gereken vakit de o zamanlarmış. Geçti bizden yeraltı edebiyatı ve bilimum iğrençlikler...
Osiris Oliphant
;Anita Fix review 2002-ish

ART, milady, consists in knowing how to kill...
...Art, milady, consist in knowing how to kill, according to Rituals of Beauty." so recites an executioner far more disturbing and just as profound as Kafka's self-mutilations 'In The Penal Colony'. Octave Mirbeau's fin-de-siecle brutal fairy-tale is divided down the middle forming a novel hermaphrodite. The first side exploratory of the monstrous exterior life and career of our main character, modelled on Octave Mirbeau hi
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love, death, torture, corruption -- mix them up into a grisly stew, and you have Octave Mirbeau's The Torture Garden (1899), a curious pastiche of a work whose major part consists of a stroll through a strange garden in which prisoners are executed -- exquisitely -- to the accompaniment of exotic flora and fauna. One of the tortures consists of listening close up to a giant bell until blood spurts out one's orifices. (The torture also kills the torturers.)

Having failed in France, the narrator go
This is a very misanthropic book written by one of those probably-insane nineteenth century Frenchmen. I don't know what it is about the French and this kind of thing but there was certainly nothing contemporary in the English world to rival the filthiness and extremity that was coming from this land of wine, cheese and Catholicism. Britain probably would have sealed up the channel, except all the ministers crying and gnashing about "obscenity! Degradation! Blasphemy!" were secretly getting off ...more
Danger Kallisti
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dissolute Francophile philosophers
This book was really one of those once-in-a-lifetime finds. I was randomly surfing through, reading about Artaud and movements in contemporary theater, and that somehow led to weird recommendations for sadomasochistic turn-of-the-century French writing. It was translated and released by a small indie publisher dealing in out-of-print and hard-to-find erotica, mostly from the 60s.

One could easily tell by the very poor editing (which I’m starting to get used to, after this year, but wh
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mirbeau wrote The Torture Garden as a literary response to the Dreyfus affair: a political scandal - based on a miscarriage of justice within the military - that divided French society in the late 1800's. The Torture Garden dissects the dichotomy between the reflected human obsessions of depravity and desire. Mirbeau carves sensuality into the brutal actions of his characters with a poet's attention to language. The novel is disturbing, not just because of the explicit violence depicted, but in ...more
OK, it's probably both borderline racist and borderline misogyny-- let's get that out of the way before we start in.

But it's also supremely fucked up and awesome and lushly descriptive, sadomasochistic but also kind of not really, vaguely political (there's a political message in there somewhere...), simultaneously Nietzschean and anti-Nietzschean, bizarre, unclassifiable, and just generally kickass. Pain is life is sex is death, and we try to impose categories to make sense of it-- whether or n
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to boast they've read some shocking, underground fare
Recommended to Chris by: the nincompoops at
Recommended by, and when have they been wrong, aside from the last ten suggestions haphazardly tossed my way……

I picked this up hoping to be disgusted, to be so shocked, startled, and overwhelmed with mind-blowing perversity that I wouldn’t be able to turn my sickened eyes from it while plumbing the depths of depravity. What did I get? A bunch of botany and some pretty pathetic torture sequences. What happened to the ‘detailed descriptions of sexual euphoria and exquisite torture’ tha
May 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition I thought this would be a good time to review The Torture Garden since I just finished watching Diary of the Dead and don't want to sleep at the moment. If there's a common thread between some of what I've been reading and viewing lately, it's that we're all gluttons for the horrific--so long as the horror is one stepped removed from us.

The Torture Garden involves a relationship between a man and his mistress who loves to call him an "insignificant little woman." Despite the title, it's
The novel, published 1899, examines an attitude to life without right and wrong, good and evil. Beauty and pain are constantly present, mentally or physically. They are melting together and eventually it's difficult to see the difference. Perhaps they were always the same.

The story follows a young man, a corrupt politician, on a journey where he meets his love interest, a sadistic woman. She brings him to a torture garden in China, where pain borders on pleasure and where love and suffering orig
Timothy Mayer
"Fin-de-siecle decadence at its best. At one time one of those 'suppressed' books and now chiefly remembered as one of Frank Frazetta's better paperback covers"
-Karl Edward Wagner, 1983

"In a broader sense the expression fin de siècle is used to characterize anything that has an ominous mixture of opulence and/or decadence, combined with a shared prospect of unavoidable radical change or some approaching 'end.'"- Wikipedia

First published in 1899, Torture Garden still leaves a taste of decadence i
Jun 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: schwarzeromantik
As a well-meaning reviewer, I'd say: Don't read this book. It's disgusting. Just it is also considered so very diverting. But see if it's for you---Contains SPOILERS

Scene One: Our Parisian friend and hero of the book tries to get elected in a remote rural area of France, after a short tutorial on the beetroot crop (and how to improve it) from a friend. But alas: Obviously the peasants can smell ignorance when it comes to beetroot.

Scene Two: Having failed in politics, he takes up travel and falls
Nate D
Aug 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nate D by: Mike E, via goodreads.
Blood from blossoms, blossoms from blood, les fleurs du mal, terrible and exquisite sensations. Vicious, grotesque, fleetingly beautiful, then again utterly abject. Necessary and unnecessary. I'm startled, both by the fountaining bile of the book, and that any can claim this has been dulled by time into quaintness.

Murder is the very bed-rock of our social institutions, and consequently the most imperious necessity of civilized life. If it no longer existed, there would be no governments of any k
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A simple story about a jaded guy who meets this crazy-ass woman in China who takes him to this amusement park of torture. Absolutely spectacular imagination! And the ending is so strange...
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Un vrai manifeste de l'esthétique de l'horreur !
Eric Byrnes
The anarchist message running through The Torture Garden seems to achieve its end by taking traditional statist and collectivist forms of political organization—very similar to those described by Aristotle in his Politics—and having us reexamine them in the reflective surface of a warped mirror, the like of which one might find in a carnival funhouse. The narrative begins in the midst of a soirée attended by the crème de la crème of the intelligentsia; esteemed physicians, professors, pedantic ...more
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Voy a comentar este libro en español porque nadie lo ha hecho y porque fue el idioma en que lo leí. Llegué a “El jardín de los suplicios (Le jardin des supplices)” de manera casi casual.
A los catorce o quince años de edad encontré en la biblioteca de la secundaria a la que asistía un libro con un título y tema similar, en ese entonces, siendo más joven, el libro me impresionó profundamente y aún la considero una de esas lecturas que aparecen una vez en la vida y dejan su marca. Años después com
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
First things first ...the front cover shown on Amazon to accompany the book gives rise to that adage 'don't judge a book by it's cover' as it gives the look of some pulp throw away wheras a better book actually lies behind the cover(replicated in virtual 'glory' by the Kindle).
The book itself is one I had heard of but had never got around to reading...however at 75p on I thought maybe it was time to give it a go I am glad I did.
It's been a solid decent read starting as in the way of
"Because love and death are the same thing! and because decay is the eternal resurrection of life..."

For me, the themes of life, death and beauty in this work remind frequently (though via much more vulgar means) of Camus' portrait of the mad emperor, Caligula. Much like Caligula, the pleasures of actual life have become infuriatingly unsatisfactory for Clara -- she is only able to find joy in witnessing torture. Mirbeau juxtaposes scenes of great brutality and pain against descriptions of the b
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favs
Splendid and terrible.. It is not easy to describe the sort of emotions i felt whilst reading this magnificent book. It creates incredible sensations which as i assume, is why it's labeled erotic, you are supposed to feel it. It's not sexual, it's not dirty, it's majestically sensual.
And the love.. The love.. It's full of love.
Quite descriptive and very graphic, so violent and tender that "It's impossible for me to express in words its infinite sweetness and ineffable idyllic poetry".. Haha .. I
Andrew W.m.
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll be honest, this is pretty much my favourite book of all time.

A swingeing satire painted in lurid brushstrokes broad enough to appear crass to some. The depiction of fin de siecle French politics is perfect and the decadent ruminations on the nature of man could hardly be more attuned to my taste. Erudite, incorrigible and fresh enough to still be shocking, if this book became flesh there'd be a queue to join his gentleman's club.
Libby Drew
Mar 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
My LJ bookclub book for March. Not an easy read, but a thought-provoking one. I believe the most disturbing parts, for me at any rate, were not the graphic scenes, but just how many truths about human nature are hidden (or not hidden) in the social commentary. I can't even imagine what stir this book must have caused when originally published in 1899.
Jun 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love repulsive/attractive stories (like sweet & sour flavor)
This is the single-most disturbing book I have read to date and still find fascinating. It's about a young Frenchman attempting to find himself (via economic success) in colonial China and the frightening English femme fatale he meets. Read it!
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“Come now, don't make such a funeral face. It isn't dying that's sad; it's living when you're not happy.” 49 likes
“Monsters, monsters! But there are no monsters! What you call monsters are superior forms, or forms beyond your understanding. Aren't the gods monsters? Isn't a man of genius a monster, like a tiger or a spider, like all individuals who live beyond social lies, in the dazzling and divine immortality of things? Why, I too then-am a monster!” 15 likes
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