Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Books: Justine and 100 days of Sodom

Two things. I didn't finish these books. Also I enjoyed them more than I expected. I started with Justine and although at first it caused me pain to trawl through the unwieldy sentences, the archaic language, the odd turn of phrase, eventually I fell into the rhythm of it and, surprisingly, began to laugh. Who was to know that de Sade is funny? I certainly didn't expect this. I really enjoyed the hilarity of silly Justine making the same mistake over and over. I want to be virtuous, and the universe slapping her down again and again.

It was kind of an anti Ayn Rand, or perhaps it was satirising all that Ayn Rand holds dear. Her serious love of capitalism was held up and shaken in de Sade. His rich and powerful people win, of course they do, because life is ridiculous. But the winners are not painted as you would expect. The winners are ugly, and, when, listening to my more learned friends, I switched to 100 Days of Sodom, they are painted as a crazed and ugly crew. Priests have penises that are deformed and fail to become erect, noblemen delight in defecating on small children. I love his extremities, how he takes everything so far that it becomes ridiculous in its excess. de Sade is not being serious. He is taking the piss. He is thumbing his nose at the rich and slashing at the very fabric of society.

Probably better in small doses. In a big chunk it loses it's startling obscenity, the extreme seems mild - perhaps that is the point, but I like de Sade, just in small doses. I must finish Justine for bookclub or at least I will try, this weekend of dedication to the debauched. Lets see if I emerge with my sense of humour still intact after that.

1 comment:

sarah toa said...

I think you are right when it comes to small doses. I haven't read Justine but I found 120 Days a boring old wade towards the end. Got frowned upon by the local librarian too, when I asked for a renewal. I still don't know if that frown was worth the extra 300 pages.