Not just Free but Flesh: Simone de Beauvoir's Existentialist Approach to Sade's Life and Work

Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 45 (2):162-174 (2014)
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The decades immediately following the Second World War saw extensive interest in the literary novels of Sade. Compared with the Sade studies of Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Lacan, and Gilles Deleuze, Simone de Beauvoir offers a unique perspective in her essay Must We Burn De Sade?. Indeed, unlike her contemporaries, Beauvoir focuses not only on Sade's prose but also on Sade's life and the relationship between Sade's life and literature. The latter is interpreted in two different ways. Thus, Beauvoir uses at least three different perspectives to understand the Marquis de Sade. In our essay, each of these three approaches, not clearly distinguished by Beauvoir's interpreters, will be discussed separately. This discussion will be linked to the important point that Beauvoir mentions three different notions of sadistic enjoyment. It will be argued that the distinction between these different notions coincides with the distinction between the three perspectives Beauvoir uses in her reading of Sade. We will evaluate both how Beauvoir's study on Sade is related to her existentialist philosophy, and the relationship between Must We Burn De Sade? and the studies of Beauvoir's contemporaries, a relationship which is neglected by most scholars in continental philosophy.



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The ethical night of libertinism: Beauvoir's reading of Sade.Anna Petronella Foultier - 2022 - Continental Philosophy Review (not yet assigned):1-21.

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References found in this work

Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology.Jean-Paul Sartre - 1956 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Sarah Richmond & Richard Moran.
Écrits.Jacques Lacan - 1967 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 22 (1):96-97.
4 Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty on ambiguity.Monika Langer - 2003 - In Claudia Card (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir. Cambridge University Press. pp. 87.
Reading Simone de Beauvoir with Martin Heidegger.Eva Gothlin - 2003 - In Claudia Card (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir. Cambridge University Press. pp. 45--65.

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