The Crimes of Love: Heroic and tragic Tales, Preceeded by an Essay on Novels (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 10 Mar 2005
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[An] excellent new edition... A recommended introduction to the Sadean oeuvre for anyone genuinely interested in the ideas that won him enduring notoriety. (Ruth Scurr, Times Literary Supplement)
About the Author
David Coward is Professor of Modern French Literature at the University of Leeds. He is the author of A History of French Literature and the translator of Jacques the Fatalist and The Figaro Trilogy.
Top customer reviews
This anthology is somewhat in the middle; no lows of the second kind, but fewer highs of the first.
The introductory "Essay on Novels" is interesting as the only Sadeian example of literary criticism, which shows he was aware of the history of novels and made me wonder what better works didn't survive.
The shorter fiction (and an angry exchange of letters with one of the Marquis' reviewers) which follows, is radically different to "Justine", "Juliette", "Philosophy in the Bedroom" and "120 Days of Sodom", not least because the villains and heroes are less two-dimensional than those of the aforementioned books.
The brigands and aristocratic libertines are less sex-crazed; their villainy is more psychological and philosophical, revealed in conversation and asides. What sex there is remains much less graphic, too, although "Eugenie de Franval" manages to shock without endless descriptions of torture, rape and overeating.
"Ernestine, A Swedish Tale" is one of the highlight of the collection, concerning a libertine who kidnaps the victim-heroine of the piece, and her lover, who gets entangled with a female libertine of the sort so familiar from "Justine" and Juliette. The story was drawn from some real life sources and is fairly well presented (in translation, anyway), having apparently been influenced by English period novels.
Another noteworthy novella is "Florville and Courval", which is a tragedy of ill-starred marriage, death, untimely revelation of dark secrets and a totally unexpected ending. One fateful event follows another to turn the heroine into a villain herself, making great drama out of a short work.It reminded me a little of minor Jacobean revenge plays like "Tis Pity She's a Whore"
Not for everyone, but nothing Sade has written will ever be that.
If you have any interest in his work, this collection shows a side of Sade which usually is overlooked. His situations and characters are better fleshed-out, and through them he explores liberty (and libertinism) in a new light.
Check it out
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I would definitely recommend reading the "essay on novels" thoroughly before reading the stories. Also, read the explanatory notes! Sometimes, it is trivial biographical/historical information, but occasionally there is some very insightful analysis of the text that help explain the point Sade is trying to make. A few of the devices that Sade employs will seem like cliches, but it should be kept in mind that much of his writing is reactionary.
Finally, his stories should also be read in the context of France immediately after the revolution. As the biography points out, Sade escaped the guillotine on a technicality. Hence his disillusionment with liberal republican ideals.
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