Justine: A Philosophical Romance, or “The Misfortunes of Virtue”. Marquis de Sade.

Justine: A Philosophical Romance, or “The Misfortunes of Virtue”

Marquis de Sade. 1791/1963.

This is supposedly “for the first time translated from the original French” version. Hilarious book. De Sade loves to tack a seemingly good moral at the end of various episodes, but he clearly revels in the debauchery and libertinism of his scenes, and he devotes so much time to the development of logical rationalizations for the villains’ actions. Justine/Therese’s ‘virtues’ and the conclusion of the story are tongue-in-cheek attempts to placate the good Christian reader more than anything else.

The villains’ underlying philosophy is two-fold: first, that we are of nature and therefore everything we do is natural, and second, that good and evil must always be balanced, and since society is always urging people to be good, the villains take it upon themselves to do bad, which feels better anyway.