K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings

The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings by Marquis de Sade
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's review
Oct 11, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: 1001-core, challenging, classics
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)

A long disgusting book. Granted that this is well-written and the author wrote this for patriotic reason, I still don't like this book.

Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) wrote 120 Days of Sodom to disgust the French people against the corruption in the government of King Louis XIV. Sade was an French aristocrat, revolutionary, writer and a libertine, i.e., one that devoid of moral restraints. This book, 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings is an erotic book with his philosophical musings and lots of disgusting sex, violence, bizarre sexual fantasies, murder, mutilations and blasphemy against Catholic religion. Sade, being a self-declared popular libertine and a proponent of "extreme freedom", puts in all those negative thoughts in this novel to despise the French people, take up their arms and revolt against their king. This was during the French Revolution (1789-1799). Writing was his way to fight for freedom. He was 45 years (about my age now) old, imprisoned in Bastille, when he wrote this. This time of his life was made into a movie, the 2000 period film starring Geoffrey Rush, Quill.

It is about these 4 extremely wealthy libertines (middle-age men) who troop into a far-flung medieval castle in rural France. They invited 4 aging female prostitutes with the intent of listening to their sexual experiences so they can get inspired to engage on similar sexual acts. After each story, the four libertines put the those stories, fact or fantasies, into action with their victims that include their own daughters, good-looking virgin boys and girls (aged from 12-15), ugly women (to provide contrast) and men with big penises.

I have two older brothers. While I was reading this book, Brother 1 told me to stop. He said he Googled this and he said that the devil lurks inside books like this. You will gain nothing from that book. Brother 2 told me to continue (he has read and liked this book. He says that Sade was a freedom fighter. It is like Mel Gibson shouting "Freeeeeedom!" at the ending scene when he is supposed to be decapitated in the 1995 Oscar Best Picture, Braveheart.

Obviously, I agree with Brother 2. I also agree what he wrote in his review: truly a memorable read. I even agree with Simone de Beauvoir's essay (first part of this book) Must We Burn Sade? defending the beauty and intent of Sade's mind. But I still don't like this book. It is so disgusting and makes me want to puke every after 10 pages or so. It is the reason why it took me more than a month to finish this. In between, I had to read The Holy Bible and happy children's books.
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Reading Progress

October 11, 2010 – Started Reading
October 11, 2010 – Shelved
October 11, 2010 –
page 135
October 11, 2010 –
page 135
16.9% "Part 1A: Must We Burn Sade? by Simone de Beauvior. Nice quote: The penis is the shortest path between two hearts (p. 61)"
October 11, 2010 –
page 135
16.9% "Part 1B: Nature as Destructive Principle by Pierre Klossowski. Frankly, I did not understand what this guy was saying."
October 11, 2010 –
page 135
16.9% "Part 1C: Reflections on the Novel (1800) by Marquis da Sade. Now, this one got me going. Since I only recently read Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette, I was able to relate with Sade's incarceration during French Revolution. He also mentioned Rousseau and Voltaire (among other French writers). I should read those soon!"
October 11, 2010 –
page 135
16.9% "Part 1D: Villeterque's Review of Les Crimes de l'Amour. First I thought that Villeterque and Sade were one and the same person. In this part Villeterque wrote: "Adieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, Marmontel, Fielding and Richardson: you will be read no more". It is as if Villeterque is trying to set the frame of the reader's mind that 120 Days of Sodom is a departure from the usual novel so it is good."
November 19, 2010 – Finished Reading
July 22, 2011 – Shelved as: 1001-core
July 22, 2011 – Shelved as: challenging
September 26, 2011 – Shelved as: classics

Comments (showing 1-23)

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message 23: by Lisa (new)

Lisa I have to laugh KD, at the extraordinary contrast between Sade & the Bible - your head must have been spinning!

message 22: by Japi (new)

Japi oh wow. you know, i was going to put this in my next year's reading challenge...(if i haven't already)..I have heard that the movie 'Salo' which was italian was based on this book....we lasted less than 5 minutes at the room and went away. :-)

message 21: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Thanks for this review, K.D. Just about what I expected!

message 20: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely Yes, Lisa. It was a tough time for me. To bring back my sanity, the Bible and children's (positive) books had to be read.

@Japi: Yes, I saw that movie too and the disgust that you will have reading the book is double or triple than the feeling you had seeing the movie. So, if you walked away after 5 minutes, just don't try the book. It is more disgusting.

@T: I know. I know, T. This is included in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die so I have (my quest) to finish it. Thanks for the vote! :)

message 19: by Joyzi (new)

Joyzi Whoa I might read this book some time in the future

message 18: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Good review, KD. I'll follow your hints and avoid this!

message 17: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely Good luck, Joyzi. If you really want to try this book, do it when you are in your 30's or 40's. It might negatively affect your young mind. You are still to young for this previously banned book.

@B: Thanks for the vote. Yes, please avoid this at all cost!

message 16: by Barbara (new)

Barbara You're a funny guy!! :)

message 15: by Joyzi (new)

Joyzi Yeah some time in the future maybe if I'm like 80 years old or something lol

message 14: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely I take that as a compliment, B!

No, Joyzi. Not that old. When you are 80 you will not have the energy to hold a thick book like this. Also, the letters are too small for you. If you buy the large-print edition, you would need somebody to hold the book as it will be heavier. So, just when you are 40 or something.

message 13: by Monique (new)

Monique What a coincidence, I was at National Bookstore just over the weekend and saw a copy of this. I actually picked it up and contemplated whether I should buy it or not (in the back of my mind I could read Armand's comments on the subject) because I was utterly curious. When my hubby saw me holding it, he said, "Babasahin mo yan??", and very incredulously at that. So I explained the curiosity, to which he just raised an eyebrow. Hehe. I ended up not buying it after all. :)

I will probably read this after I've gone through a good portion of my to-read pile. I'm still very curious especially since you find it so "disgusting", knowing that you're a mature, married guy and all (right?).

Great, straight-to-the-point review by the way. :)

message 12: by mark (new) - rated it 1 star

mark monday i agree k.d.

i understand WHAT he was trying to say about freedom of the spirit vs repression, etc....but it was hard for me to deal with HOW he said it. a very unpleasant read. too much genital mutitlation, copraphilia, and all-around sadism, etc....his very good points became drowned within all the horrors.

message 11: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely I agree. Mark. Thanks for the vote.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Tears of joy at your review. Especially the last part!

message 9: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, William.
But if I will read this again? I don't think I'd be giving it 1 star still. I think it deserves at least a 3-star rating.

message 8: by Xiaohe (new) - added it

Xiaohe I'm debating whether I should watch the (highly acclaimed but equally controversial) film version of this book..it's like this--I know I'll be disgusted..but I'm so damn curious..

message 7: by Jos (new)

Jos and how old are you, K.D.?

message 6: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely Jos, may I know why you are asking?

message 5: by Jos (new)

Jos If you want to discourage other readers not a certain age to read this, it might be interesting to know how old you are yourself, so we can all know how that affected your viewpoint

message 4: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely That's a good point. In my opinion though, age is not the only factor. I should also tell you my education attainment, reading history, family background, race, etc. Do you agree?

message 3: by Chibivy (new) - added it

Chibivy Hi Sir K.D.~!

I want to read that! I learned about it when a friend watched the movie adaptation in one of their classes, and I discovered it was originally a novel.

Marquis de Sade had such a controversial life, and until now he is being heavily criticized or hailed. He also spent the majority in his life in the asylum. Was that the novel he wrote in a... Tissue paper (If I'm not mistaken)? I think that was not actually finished, and he thought it was lost forever.

message 2: by Jos (new)

Jos K.D. wrote: "That's a good point. In my opinion though, age is not the only factor. I should also tell you my education attainment, reading history, family background, race, etc. Do you agree?"

Sure, if you want to go on at such a great length. All of these factors could certainly influence your viewpoint. However, the gist of your argument seems to be that this book is ''adult only'', not ''whites only'' or ''college educated only''. Therefore, age will do. Furthermore, because you related the reaction of your brothers, it seems to me you are not even that old yourself, which would make a statement like ''only read this book if you're in your 30's or 40's'' a lot less credible. I could be wrong of course.

message 1: by Laura (new)

Laura Pasternack Jos: Your comment was 3 years ago, so you might not ever see this - but K.D. answers your question (of their age) right in the review. Read it again, and you'll see where s/he says "He was 45 years (about my age now) when he wrote this."

So either the brothers' reactions were a memory, or the reviewer just happens to share book opinions with their adult brothers. If you have siblings, don't you ever talk about books? I do with mine, and I'll be 40 in a few weeks!

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