on 7 March 2001
Carter's non-fiction examination of De Sade's writing asks does pornography examine the real world of sexual relations or does it remain fixed to a timeless area outside history? This book envisages the idea of a moral pornographer who uses pornography as a critique of relations between the sexes.
Readers who enjoy Carter's fiction will see that the character of Justine who serves as a version of the perfect woman, appears and reappears in many of her works of fiction. Carter personifies De Sade's imagination into the molested and tortured woman, the celebrity victim, and Hollywood starlet.
Pornography it seems is not the enemy of women, but merely a reduction of sex to its formal elements. The arguement that pornography can be empowering is difficult to reconcile, and I am not sure I agree, but the idea is certainly thought provoking.
on 17 January 2009
The Marquis de Sade may well be more famous for misattributions of the terms `sadism' and `sadomasochism' than for what he actually wrote and thought. For many people who routinely involve an element of pain and/or humiliation in their erotic practices and fantasies, the bloody antics in Sade's works are simply nauseating. Angela Carter here provides a much needed context for these works, showing that Sade's view of the world was surprisingly egalitarian for his times, highlighting the gross inequities of class as well as gender. This is a scholarly book, containing much food for thought and contemplation. It provides a secure foundation stone for true feminism, in the sense of seeking true equality of humanity, and not simply a trivial glossy equality with overtones of revenge. Angela Carter was one of the most impressive writers of novels in the last century, and this deeply thinking work impressed me by its insight into what constitutes true equality. This book should interest anyone seeking enlightenment into the psychology that underlies so-called sadomasochistic activities, and indeed also the need for pain, inflicting or inflicted, in many common fantasies.