Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • French teenage girls held over Syria jihad plans

    Read more

  • Good borders make good neighbours, Merkel tells Ukraine

    Read more

  • Iceland issues aviation alert on volcano activity

    Read more

  • France will not be 'be pushed around' by Germany

    Read more

  • Libya withdraws as Africa Cup of Nations host

    Read more

  • ‘European GPS’ satellites launched into wrong orbit

    Read more

  • Suicide bomber targets Iraq intelligence HQ in deadly attack

    Read more

  • Video: Israel bombs kidnapping suspect’s home

    Read more

  • US brands journalist’s beheading a ‘terrorist attack’

    Read more

  • Ebola prompts Philippines to recall UN troops in Liberia

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • US sued over ‘deportation mill’ in New Mexico

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels in face-to-face talks

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Ferguson

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • US job market yet to recover from recession, says Fed Chair

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

Culture

Marquis de Sade’s ‘120 Days of Sodom’ returned to France

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-04

The original scroll on which notorious French writer Marquis de Sade penned “The 120 Days of Sodom”, his racy novel about murder, pedophilia and sexual perversion, has been returned to France after a prolonged legal dispute.

The parchment piece, first found hidden in a cell wall at Paris’s Bastille prison, will be displayed in the French capital starting in September to mark the bicentenary of the 18th century icon’s death.

Sade wrote the text in 1785 while imprisoned in the Bastille. The book traces the sexual adventures and manipulations of four French libertines who rape, torment, and finally kill young victims at a chateau in Germany’s Black Forest.

The scroll, which measure 12 meters (39 feet) long, was discovered in Sade’s cell when the jail was stormed during the French Revolution in 1789 (Sade had already been transferred to another facility). Since then, it has been stolen, hidden, and passed back and forth between courts in France and Switzerland.

But current owner Gerard Lheritier, the founder and president of Aristophil, a company specialising in rare letters and manuscripts, will exhibit the text at the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts – which he owns – in Paris’s 7th district.

Lheritier, who is French, recently purchased the manuscript for €7 million ($9.6 million). The story of how it ended up in his hands is long and twisting.

Hidden, sold and fought over in court

Thrown in jail in 1777 – first in Vincennes, then in the Bastille – for abusing several young girls, Sade began writing “The 120 Days of Sodom” eight years into his sentence. Having tucked the scroll into a crack in his cell wall before being moved to another prison, Sade died believing it lost in the destruction of the Bastille prison.

In fact, the manuscript, once described by Sade as “the most impure tale that has ever been told”, was found during the storming of the Bastille and subsequently sold to the Marquis de Villeneuve-Trans.

The Villeneuve-Trans family kept the scroll for three generations, then sold it to German doctor Iwan Bloch at the end of the 19th century. Bloch, in turn, published the text in Germany in 1904.

In 1929, Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, the latter a descendent of Sade, bought the original manuscript. Their daughter, Nathalie, handed it off in 1982 to a publisher friend, Jean Grouet, who later sold it for 300,000 francs (roughly €45,734, or $62,724) to a Swiss erotica collector named Gerard Nordmann.

The legal battle that followed saw a French court ruling that the scroll return to the de Noailles family in 1990, then a Swiss court deciding in 1998 that it still legally belonged to the Nordmann family.

Lheritier, the current owner, ended up buying the manuscript from Nordmann’s son, Serge.

He has said that he hopes the scroll ends up at France’s national library (BNF), located in the 13th district of Paris.

trailer for pier paolo pasolini's film adaptation of sade's '120 days of sodom'

 

Date created : 2014-04-03

  • CINEMA

    ‘Smart Ass’ peeks at sordid underbelly of French ‘Ivy League’

    Read more

  • ART

    Martin Parr’s ‘Paris’ photo exhibit captures everyday life in French capital

    Read more

  • EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

    Max Brooks on how France embraced US all-black WWI unit

    Read more

COMMENT(S)