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The Marquis de Sade as a Key Figure of Enlightenment

How His Crystal Genius Still Speaks to Today’s World and Its Major Problems

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Moussa Traore

The Marquis de Sade as a Key Figure of Enlightenment: How His Crystal Genius Still Speaks to Today’s World and Its Major Problems discusses how the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) stretched the dimensions of reputation and notoriety nearly obscuring his mastery in literature and philosophy while braving the Ancien Régime and Revolutionary France’s «age of iron [hell]» with unheard-of determination to be read and taken seriously as not just a writer and a contributing citizen but as an engaged educator, a committed philosopher, and an uncompromisingly fierce moralist. Sade has been a strange combination of what society dreads and what it needs most for its salvation: mature enlightenment that is not afraid to see and face real problems so that there can be solutions. This book stresses how the literary and intellectual public needs to reconnect with the moral gems of this demon(ized) man, nowadays more so than ever, to explain our most critical issues and to reiterate the long-standing solutions Sade professed from the 1780s through the early nineteenth century. This work not only reestablishes the creative, literary, and intellectual Sade, it critically stages and highlights the philosophical Marquis as a world citizen trapped between theories of social classes and a loose-fitting messianism. It is evident throughout the work how Sade’s deep concerns for humanity flatly contradict the popular rhetoric (of wickedness and perversion) recycled and amplified since his first writing days. The Marquis de Sade as a Key Figure of Enlightenment offers a new perspective on this complex writer and on the intimate workings of our human world. It is a valuable resource for courses on French literature, eighteenth-century studies, the Enlightenment, literary criticism, and gender and sexuality studies.

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IX -- EXIT PARENTHESIS -- PICTURING AN AFTERWORD: The Economy of Enlightenment between the "Lightening" of the 20th Century: One "Saint" by Example in His Own My Pilgrimage for Peace 231

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IX. EXIT PARENTHESIS—PICTURING AN AFTERWORD: The Economy of Enlightenment between the „Lightening‟ of the 20th Century: One „Saint‟ by example in his Own My Pilgrimage for Peace When Sade said in 1793 (ES, 40) that without him—his writings and their wisdoms—people would keep abusing each other, very few people, if any, would have found it to be more than laughable, ironic and even possibly ‗sadis- tic.‘ It would be more so especially for those fraught with the abundant rhetoric of his critics, easy readers and easy writers. After reading him within the lines and without prejudice, one realizes that he was not joking. He was simply mi- sunderstood, bedeviled into a bad character and held to be so, because his so- lutions came against the very people who profit from the crimes, the vices, the immorality, popular ignorance and so forth, which he depicted. Given that an important number of the people fighting him had the power, the means and the language to speculate on what is acceptable, and given that Sade was genuinely part of the historic power (class), and that he shared some of the behavior that he later chastised, it is unlikely that he would have been seen as one who truly wants to keep people from abusing each other. Yet, a great deal of the wisdoms ‗buried‘ in his writings would have been very useful for the 19th to 21st centuries‘ humans. If we take the example of George Lansbury‘s My Pilgrimage...

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