Marquis de Sade, Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795)
A French aristocrat, politician, writer, and philosopher infamous for his libertine sexuality and whose name spawned the word “sadism,” Sade was locked up for 32 years of his life in prisons and insane asylums for blasphemy, his abuse of young men, women, servants, and prostitutes, and his shocking writings, including The 120 Days of Sodom (1785), Justine (1791), and Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795). Living through the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, Sade witnessed and participated in an extraordinarily bloody and politically tumultuous period of history. His work subverted traditional notions of beauty, literature, morality, religion, philosophy, politics, psychology, and art. The Musée d’Orsay recently held a spectacular exhibition devoted to Sade—“Sade: Attacking the Sun” (October 2014 to January 2015).