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First of all, Juliette is not at all erotic. In fact the lengthy passages of pornography are repetitious, totally lacking in any real sensuality and ultimately a bore as all crude hedonism must ultimately be eventually.
I've read the Marquis de Sade in other translations as well as in the original French and I must say that Austrin Wainhouse's translation is excellent and really gets right to the essence of expressing just how funny the Marquis can be when he gets into full rant.
But make no mistake, this is a novel worth owning and reading. Don't bother reading it from beginning to end. It's a picaresque novel at best but really the scaffolding of the novel is there more to support the Marquis de Sade's odd pungent philosophy .
And that philosophy makes me laugh so hard I fear that I'll break my ribs in convulsions of intense hilarity.
I've read some of the other reviews here, particularly the clucking of the moralists suggesting it deserves censorship. The world deserves censorship perhaps. Watch a pack of wolves take down a moose in a frozen wasteland, hanging off its hamstrings by their teeth, thrusting their hungry muzzles into its anus to rip its guts out its ass, as it bellows in fear and pain and they wag their tails with pleasure. That is the world we live in created by God. We crave a stable moral comfortable world ruled by justice, but explorers sought out and discovered the Aztecs. By our standards they were an entire race of fearsome cannibalistic drug addled murderous lunatics. Their cities were cleaner, and more orderly than any European city by the account of RC church monks that witnessed with regret Cortez's cataclysmic destruction of their civilization. No writer has ever been so attuned to this dreadful and awe inspiring harmonia mundi as the Marquis de Sade.
There are magnificent moments in this book; the Marquis methodically demolishing the Christian concept of pity and charity as unnatural, inhuman, and perversely destructive, counter productive to human happiness, for example. He examines its effect on the human psych of both the givers and the recievers of it with a microscope and then submits it to his ineluctable logic. Only Luis Bunel's Viridiana has come close to demolishing these supposed virtues with anything near the same comic force of implacable logic.
But in the end his true talent, his greatest comedy is his own personality expressed in his frenzied diatribes. An impeccably educated elegant erudite aristocrat, penning endless pages of cool eloquent prose worthy of a Bossuet or Fenelon, frothing at the mouth in frenzies of a mad dog, or advocating the most perverse and depraved morality with intricate reasonings in obstinate opposition to all mankind. That constant contradiction of style and substance ultimately is the most sublime comedy of this resolutely stubborn monster.
 

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