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Sade

The Invention of the Libertine Body

1999
Author:

Marcel Henaff
Translated by Xavier Callahan

Sade

A new model for examining Sade and his creations.

Decried as a misogynist and pornographer, imprisoned for debauchery and for his writings, there is scarcely a cultural figure as flamboyant and controversial as the Marquis de Sade, the father of the new libertine body. But this is not the only way to see Sade. In this long-awaited English translation, Hénaff says that Sade should be discussed less for the sensual heat of his writing and more for the larger poetic and economic model his work represents.

“Henaff prefaces this long-awaited, artful English translation with an excellent clarification of his approach: not to judge or defend the infamous marquis, but ‘to speak about the invention of a representation,’ paradoxically both aristocratic and based in ‘schemata from a techno economic universe.’” Choice

A new model for examining Sade and his creations.

Decried as a misogynist and pornographer, imprisoned for debauchery and for his writings, there is scarcely a cultural figure as flamboyant and controversial as the Marquis de Sade, the father of the new libertine body. But this is not, Hénaff maintains, the only way to see Sade. In this long-awaited English translation, Hénaff says that Sade should be discussed less for the sensual heat of his writing and more for the larger poetic and economic model his work represents.

With unabashed candor, Sade describes bodies in terms not of flesh but of production, use, exchange, and waste. In his writing, this libertine self is unleashed from its constraints, no longer bound by old conceptions of desire and traditions of courtship. Hénaff’s argument that Sade is a sign of his times-exposing the courtly facade of a society unable to preserve itself-reveals dark, disquieting secrets about the direction of civilization. The libertine body, he says, is a child of this new order.

ISBN 0-8166-2536-0 Cloth £34.50 $49.95xx
ISBN 0-8166-2537-9 Paper £14.00 $19.95x
296 Pages 5 7/8 x 9 October
Translation inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

Sade

Marcel Hénaff is a philosopher and anthropologist in the Department of Literature at the University of California, San Diego.

Xavier Callahan received the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund award for her translations of works by Graciela Reyes. She lives on Vashon Island, Washington.

Sade

“Henaff prefaces this long-awaited, artful English translation with an excellent clarification of his approach: not to judge or defend the infamous marquis, but ‘to speak about the invention of a representation,’ paradoxically both aristocratic and based in ‘schemata from a techno economic universe.’” Choice

“Sade, the Invention of the Libertine Body wholly justifies the most recent glut of Sadian print and screen biography whos unavoidably sensational treatment of erotic intemperance is instrumental in generating demoand for theoretical examination.” Boston Book Review

The English translation of Marcel Henaff’s theoretical framework arrives just in time for our fin de siecle reconsideration of Sade. Yet given our predisposition to read the excesses of Sade literally, if we read him at all, this book sets out to fight such literalism with a simple credo: ‘If our era is once again judging Sade dangerous, this means the danger is in our era itself.’ . . . Henaff postulates that the Sadean text has two main areas of inquiry, poetics and economics, and that these discourses undergo transformations as the result of the orgiastic manipulations and exaltations on every page of Sade’s fiction. . . . Henaff’s book shows without a doubt that what Sade’s writing depicts is the body’s entrance ‘into an ear of postamorous relationships.’ This, of course, is the era we live in also, which means, in a sense, we are finally ready to read Sad

not as a Kant or an NEA committee might have (with horror), nor with the malaise with which we view atrocities nightly on the news, but as the next century’s citizens’s, able not only to say what (ITAL) is intolerable but why (ITAL). Henaff’s book will make that weighty task a bit easier.” Rain Taxi

“Two decades ago, marcel Hénaff’s Sade’s Invention of the Libertine Body spurred a revolution in French scholarship by insisting that the libertine’s work must be read symbolically in order to understand ‘how, through its vocabulary, narratives, stagings, and characters, it came to constitute a hitherto unseen model for the body.’ Now Xavier Callahan’s seamless translation of Hénaff’s fiery prose allows the English reader access to this important, provocative analysis.” Publishers Weekly

“This book has nothing to do with the usual production of sadologists, Sade devotees, or other Sade hacks. Hénaff’s way of resuscitating the body (of the text) of the Divine Marquis is brilliant. A gold mine for scholars, a treat for perverts.” Le Nouvel Observateur

“In Marcel Hénaff’s book we appreciate the rigor of his analysis, the logic of his construction, and the precision of his writing. One of the best books written on Sade, important both for what it says and for what it shows.” Les Nouvelles Littéraires

“This essay will make its mark in Sade criticism. Sade's merit is to have raised essential questions; Marcel Hénaff’s merit is to have shown this with unusual vigor.” Revue Dix-Huitième Siècle

“This important study of the libertine body is a complex and cultured book.” Art Press

“An unusual and fascinating work.” Bulletin Critique du Livre Français

[A] valuable contribution....Hénaff's book reminds us of the need for rigorous analysis and meticulous textual work. Space does not allow me more than a brief appreciation of Xavier Callahan's superb translation...her prose is crisp, elegant, and pleasantly French in its rhythms. Like Hénaff-and like Sade-Callahan succeeds in juxtaposing the scholarly and the scatalogical, the brutal and the poetic.

Substance