120 Days of Sodom. This book was almost certainly the first complete study of sexual behavior. It was written a hundred years before the Psychopathia Sexualis by Krafft-Ebing, which is considered to be the first serious study of sex. Although Krafft-Ebing did not know the 120 Days of Sodom, he used some of the other books by the marquis in preparing his monumental study.
The Marquis de Sade was very busy writing, but he was also interested in getting out of the Bastille where he had been a prisoner for a long time. He knew all of Paris was in an uproar, and on July 2, 1789, he noticed a group of people in the street near the prison. He grabbed a large pipe and, using it as a megaphone, he shouted to the crowd that the prisoners were being mistreated and were being slain. He begged the people to storm the Bastille and to release the unfortunate wretches who were there. Twelve days later the Bastille was taken, but Sade, who had caused the attack, did not benefit from it since he had already been transferred to another prison where he was to remain until April of the following year.
The marquis lost most of his manuscripts at the fall of the Bastille, but this did not discourage him. Once out of prison, he started writing again, and in 1791 he published his first important novel, which was called Justine or the Misfortunes of Virtue. This book was the story of a young woman who tried to remain pure in spite of all the attacks on her virtue. She also tried to remain a good Christian, but was unsuccessful. At the end of the book she was killed by a bolt of lightning, a circumstance which would seem to show the disapproval of God for her conduct. This book, which went through many editions, was later followed by Juliette or the Benefits of Vice in which the marquis attempted to show that a life of vice was destined to be much happier than a life of virtue. Juliette, who was as immoral and vicious as Justine had been moral and kind, was entirely happy and all the blessings of life came her way.
These two companion novels have done much to establish Sade as an original thinker and an unusual writer. Through most of the nineteenth century many of the great French writ-