The Marquis de Sade, that extraordinary writer of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, was born in Paris in 1740. He came of good stock and his male ancestors were nearly always outstanding soldiers or priests. With but a short education in the hands of a religious uncle and a priest, at the age of fourteen he entered the army. Soon, the Seven Years' War was raging and the young marquis took an active part in many of the battles.
In 1763, the handsome young soldier was released from the army, and losing no time rushed to Paris to have a good time. A small house was rented in the outskirts of Paris, and became the scene of some of the wildest parties that can be imagined. The marquis' father began to worry about the large sums being spent and decided that marriage was the only thing to make his son settle down. An engagement was arranged for him to marry Renée de Montreuil, a very rich girl, and while the details of the wedding were being arranged, the young marquis was sent to the south of France to see the family estates and, incidentally, to get him away from the temptations of Paris. While there, he fell in love with another girl, but was forced to marry Renée de Montreuil.
Shortly after his marriage, the parties in his suburban hideaway were resumed. He was interested in all types of unusual activities, and it was probably at this time that he first gave expression to the streak of cruelty which was to have so much influence in his life. Five months after his marriage he was
- The term "sadism" came into general use about 1890, and was based on the name Sade, and was inspired by the cruel acts of the Marquis and by the cruelty depicted in his books.