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Lettre autographe à sa femme. Le sot témoin : « C'est un bien sot personnage que celui du témoin [...] rien dans l'univers pourrait m'engager à jouer un tel rôle »
"It is a very foolish person that that of the witness [...] nothing in the universe could engage me to play such a role"Censored Autograph Letter from Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade written in a fine two-page handwriting addressed to his wife Renée-Pélagie. Several underlining, erasures and erasures.Without date, this letter was written at the beginning of March 1781 in the prison of Vincennes.The end of the letter was mutilated at the time, probably by the prison administration, which destroyed the licentious passages of the correspondence of the Marquis. The letter was found as it was at the opening in 1948 of the Marquis's trunk, which had been sealed by the family since 1814, and was published in this amputated form in the correspondence of the Marquis de Sade.Provenance: family archives.This letter relates one of the great prison obsessions of Sade: to take the air. "I have a need to be in the air that is above all that it is possible to imagine. "Serendipity, walks - banned since of June 27, 1780 - will be made a few days after writing this letter, March 9, 1781 or after thirty-six weeks of suspension, as evidenced by the letter of 18 March 1781 [LINK ]. The Marquis was always kept in his "sort of dungeon," and lamented his fate, not wanting to make his wife feel guilty: "I have an astonishing need for air, and I will certainly not pass the summer without succumbing to it, if you do not make me breathe more this spring . " Far from asking for a walk as usual, the Marquis in this implicit request emphasizes the physiological necessity of his request: "If I could only breathe the air three or four hours a day on the top of the tower, I would be happy, proof that it is not the sterile pleasure of a walk in a cemetery that tempts me, but the essential need to breathe. " .The letter is linked to the second major subject of Sadian prison life: the visits of Renee-Pelagie. "The first object of your letter to which I reply is that in which you propose to me to come and see." You certainly can not offer me anything more agreeable and useful to bring some consolation to my unhappy situation. " . The Marquis likes to imagine the re-establishment of a couple life adapted to the constraints of prison life: "You should, if you get that, come and take a cottage for your summer in Vincennes. " . Madame de Sade has not been allowed to see her husband since her arrest and their interviews will not be restored until July 1781, that is to say almost 4 years and ½ after her incarceration and only in the presence of the police clerk Boucher. The prospect of a chaperone encounter strongly displeases Sade: "You should, if you get this permission, first try to get it without witness, because these visits with a witness are a deadly embarrassment and boredom and, besides, you will agree, it is a very foolish personage that of the witness. He must be well persuaded that he is cursed, and that the devil take me away if, according to this certainty, nothing in the universe could induce me to play such a part. "The emergence of the theatrical lexical field, fetish genre Marquis, in his letter (" character "," play such a role ") here shows the permeability between fiction and reality and perhaps apprehended next to his work future. Indeed, in the coming novels, the characters of voyeurs will be invested with a primordial role: without them, the sadistic act has no legitimate existence. Thus Justine, the main character of the eponymous novel, occupies a central position; she is Sade's accomplice, but also the double of Sade, as Bernard Noël points out: "Justine is not only the" accomplice "of Sade: she is Sade ... (In Jean Paulhan, The Marquis de Sade and his accomplice , Editions Complexes, 1987). The Marquis, through the complaints expressed in this letter, already sketches this complex relation to the witness, subject in turn adjuvant and opponent.Assimilated to an emissary of power, he became fantastically the representative of the highest inquisitorial authority: the President of Montreuil. "I have no secret of State to confide in you. The Government , in spite of your mother, is nothing in this matter. I do not see why there is such a hardship in such visits to a husband and wife who have only to talk about their own affairs. " . This ubiquitous specter of the mother-in-law resurfaced in the letter when the Marquis evokes the functioning of the "house" , a picturesque name for the prison. He relates precisely to his correspondent his observations on the operation of the laundry system: "It seems exactly that it is a housekeeper who scolds the valets for neglecting the linen that is lent to them: multiplicity of little insolences authorized by the ingenious Bailli, who is visibly bribed by the president to accumulate in all manner of signals all these little infamies. " Thus the President of Montreuil is mixed with an anecdote of the daily prison and is once again at the origin of the transmission of a fatal signal. An essential component of Marquis's prison thinking, this language coded like the fantasized interpretations of the letters of his correspondents, nourish the hypotheses of researchers, philosophers, mathematicians ... and poets biographers. Thus Gilbert Lely considers that, far from being the symptom of a psychosis, the use of signals is a "defense reaction to his psyche, an unconscious struggle against despair where his reason could have sank without the help of a such derivative ". Absent from correspondence during his eleven years of freedom, these sibylline semantic strata, "a real challenge to semiological perspicacity" (Lever p.637), will reappear in his journal de Charenton.The end of the letter was mutilated, like many missives sent at that time. These amputations are the result of penal censorship, which systematically and minutely suppressed the licentious or insulting passages. Thus, in March 1781, Renee Pelagie advised her husband: "You ought, my dear friend, to reform your style so that your letters may reach me in their entirety. If thou speakest truths, it offends thee, and it is against thee. If you say falsehoods, you say: "There is an incorrigible man, always with the same head that ferments, ungrateful, false, etc." In any case, your style can only hurt you. So reform it. ". s.n. s.l. [Prison de Vincennes] s.d. (mars 1781) 15,9x20,1cm Un feuillet recto-verso
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