"Sade on stage"

Published by Gazette Drouot International

What caused Sade's theatre pieces to fall into oblivion?

Sade was "discovered" by Apollinaire and the Surrealist poets, who made him the embodiment of radical transgression. They drew on the novels and the roll containing the “Cent Vingt Journées de Sodome”, which had just been published for the first time in Berlin, and then Paris. They found what they knew of Sade's plays (only one of which was published during his lifetime) insipid and conventional. This was why Gilbert Lely, the first publisher of Sade's complete works from 1964 onwards, deliberately excluded this "conventional" theatre, as though the author had sacrificed himself to the tastes of his time when he was otherwise seen as a prophet untrammelled by his period. We had to wait until Jean-Jacques Brochier published four volumes of plays, thus revealing a whole section of Sade's output. In their own collection of the complete works, Jean- Jacques Pauvert and Annie Le Brun give his plays major importance.