Both the Marquis De Sade and E.L. James have garnered attention for their explicit sexualized literature. The Marquis crafting perverse pieces in the late 18th century and James writing hers in the 21st. Each of these authors claiming the reason behind their writing is liberation; the Marquis for liberation from an oppressive regime and James liberation from oppressive masculine hegemony. But who did it better? This is not an uncritical question of who had the more titillating stories, but who used their literature to best define sexual politics in their time. Is one more eloquent than the other? Do they share a common ground of exploration? Does the sublime play a role in both of their writings? These questions not only point to the changing relationship society has with sexuality but also how sexual politics continues to be a major source of debate.
Having read portions of both authors work, I'm not sure if this topic has much to go with except for the fact sex and bondage show up with more frequency then they do in say The Old Man and the Sea. De Sade would be as offensive today, and perhaps even more so, then he was in his day. (I thought about including an example, but if you want to know just google "De Sade Juliette", which is not even his most "ambitious" work) James on the other hand, is perverse to people who've never seen an R rated movie and is probably offensive to people who've actually had sex. James seems to have a lot of fondness for the themes of female purity civilizing the Byronic man, sacrificing one's self for love, and pursuing monogamous, heterosexual marriage as telos. For a series of books that's all about taking a turn into the sexual wild side, it's pretty vanilla in its moral sensibilities. If De Sade had to read the Shades trilogy, he'd think it was the dumbest dumb thing in the history of dumb things. He'd then probably write some angry fanfiction where James is subject to the kind of experiences De Sade typically makes his female characters endure, all the while having a stand-in for himself calling her stupid from the side lines. (De Sade would probably cast himself as some kind of heckler who James, in her delusion, believes to be her inner Goddess/Sadist) Quite honestly, each author's body of work is tough to "swallow", but for different, unpleasant reasons. James is in terrible need of an editor and De Sade follows the literary conventions of the 18th century, which doesn't always sing to contemporary ears. Before we even talk about the content in their works, just arguing for which is the more eloquent writer is like saying whether a pigeon or pterodactyl would do better swimming across the English channel. It's amusing to think about, but dreary to pursue.
– rj2n7 years ago
I find the particular selection of these two writers very odd. Why wouldn't compare two writers with more in common (epoch, language, style, philosophy, etc.) besides the fact that they write about eroticism? There is more logic in selecting French authors form the 18th century similar to Sade (there are many of them). – T. Palomino2 months ago
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