Description

Les infortunes de la vertu, Marquis de Sade, introduction by Jean Paulhan (les editions du point du jour, 1946, “incidences” collection, #908/2000)
5.75″ x 7.75″, xlii+242pp, softcover “french wraps”, good unread condition, many pages remain uncut.

This edition appears to represent the original version of Justine that Sade wrote while imprisoned at the Bastille in 1787 (see below).

The story is about Justine from age 12 to 26 and recounts all of her attempts to be virtuous no matter what life throws at her. She is constantly presented with sexual lessons hidden under a virtuous mask. She seeks refuge in a monastery but is forced to become a sex slave of the monks. After she helps a gentleman who is robbed in a field, he takes her back to his chateau on the pretext to have her help care for his wife. He confines her in a cave where she is subjected to more punishment. When she goes to a judge to beg for mercy in her case as an arsonist, she then finds herself openly humiliated in court, unable to defend herself.

The moral(especially when juxtaposed with the “companion story”, Juliette) seems to be that one should not resist a bit of vice if it is for the common good. The more Justine tries to resist temptation and be virtuous the further she was plunged into a life of vice and torture, while Juliette (her sister) submitted to a brief period of debauchery and vice and eventually lived a comfortable, happy existence.

The Marquis de Sade wrote the first version of Justine (Les infortunes de la vertu, “The Misfortunes of Virtue”) while imprisoned at the Bastille in 1787. In 1791 an expanded and more explicit version became Sade’s first published work. In 1797, an even more detailed version was published along with a story of Juliette (Justine’s sister) that comprised of 10 volumes and nearly 4000 pages. This final version, “La Nouvelle Justine”, departed from the first-person narrative of the previous two versions, and included around 100 engravings. Most editions are taken from that 1797 Holland edition. Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the arrest of the anonymous author of Justine and Juliette, and as a result Sade was incarcerated for the last 13 years of his life. Napoleon called the work “the most abominable book ever engendered by the most depraved imagination”.

English titles: Justine, or the Misfortune(s) of Virtue; The Misfortunes of Virtue; Justine, or Good Conduct Well Chastised; Justine or Good Conduct Will Be Chastised