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violence or cruelty not being necessarily exerted by the person himself
who seeks sexual pleasure in this association."[85] Garnier's definition,
while comprising all these points, further allows for the fact that a
certain degree of sadism may be regarded as normal. "Pathological sadism,"
he states, "is an impulsive and obsessing sexual perversion characterized
by a close connection between suffering inflicted or mentally represented
and the sexual orgasm, without this necessary and sufficing condition
frigidity usually remaining absolute."[86] It must be added that these
definitions are very incomplete if by "sadism" we are to understand the
special sexual perversions which are displayed in De Sade's novels. Iwan
Bloch ("Eugen Dühren"), in the course of his book on De Sade, has
attempted a definition strictly on this basis, and, as will be seen, it is
necessary to make it very elaborate: "A connection, whether intentionally
sought or offered by chance, of sexual excitement and sexual enjoyment
with the real or only symbolic (ideal, illusionary) appearance of
frightful and shocking events, destructive occurrences and practices,
which threaten or destroy the life, health, and property of man and other
living creatures, and threaten and interrupt the continuity of inanimate
objects, whereby the person who from such occurrences obtains sexual
enjoyment may either himself be the direct cause, or cause them to take
place by means of other persons, or merely be the spectator, or, finally,
be, voluntarily or involuntarily, the object against which these processes
are directed."[87] This definition of sadism as found in De Sade's works
is thus, more especially by its final clause, a very much wider conception
than the usual definition.

Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis De Sade, was born in 1740 at
Paris in the house of the great Condé. He belonged to a very
noble, ancient, and distinguished Provençal family; Petrarch's
Laura, who married a De Sade, was one of his ancestors, and the
family had cultivated both arms and letters with success. He was,
according to Lacroix, "an adorable youth whose delicately pale
and dusky face, lighted up by two large black [according to
another account blue] eyes, already bore the languorous imprint
of the vice which was to corrupt his whole being"; his voice was
"drawling and caressing"; his gait had "a softly feminine grace."
Unfortunately there is no authentic portrait of him. His early
life is sketched in letter iv of his _Aline et Valcourt_. On
leaving the Collège-Louis-le-Grand he became a cavalry officer
and went through the Seven Years' War in Germany. There can be
little doubt that the experiences of his military life, working
on a femininely vicious temperament, had much to do with the
development of his perversion. He appears to have got into
numerous scrapes, of which the details are unknown, and his
father sought to marry him to the daughter of an aristocratic
friend of his own, a noble and amiable girl of 20. It so chanced
that when young De Sade first went to the house of his future
wife only her younger sister, a girl of 13, was at home; with her
he at once fell in love and his love was reciprocated; they were
both musical enthusiasts, and she had a beautiful voice. The
parents insisted on carrying out the original scheme of marriage.
De Sade's wife loved him, and, in spite of everything, served his
interests with Griselda-like devotion; she was, Ginisty remarks,
a saint, a saint of conjugal life; but her love was from the
first only requited with repulsion, contempt, and suspicion.
There were, however, children of the marriage; the career of the
eldest - an estimable young man who went into the army and also
had artistic ability, but otherwise had no community of tastes
with his father - has been sketched by Paul Ginisty, who has also
edited the letters of the Marquise. De Sade's passion for the
younger sister continued (he idealized her as Juliette), though
she was placed in a convent beyond his reach, and at a much later
period he eloped with her and spent perhaps the happiest period
of his life, soon terminated by her death. It is evident that
this unhappy marriage was decisive in determining De Sade's
career; he at once threw himself recklessly into every form of
dissipation, spending his health and his substance sometimes
among refinedly debauched nobles and sometimes among coarsely
debauched lackeys. He was, however, always something of an
artist, something of a student, something of a philosopher, and
at an early period he began to write, apparently at the age of
23. It was at this age, and only a few months after his marriage,
that on account of some excess he was for a time confined in
Vincennes. He was destined to spend 27 years of his life in
prisons, if we include the 13 years which in old age he passed in
the asylum at Charenton. His actual offenses were by no means so
terrible as those he loved to dwell on in imagination, and for
the most part they have been greatly exaggerated. His most
extreme offenses were the indecent and forcible flagellation in
1768 of a young woman, Rosa Keller, who had accosted him in the
street for alms, and whom he induced by false pretenses to come
to his house, and the administration of aphrodisiacal bonbons to
some prostitutes at Marseilles. It is owing to the fact that the
prime of his manhood was spent in prisons that De Sade fell back
on dreaming, study, and novel-writing. Shut out from real life,
he solaced his imagination with the perverted visions - to a very
large extent, however, founded on knowledge of the real facts of
perverted life in his time - which he has recorded in _Justine_
(1781); _Les 120 Journées de Sodome ou l'Ecole du Libertinage_
(1785); _Aline et Valcour ou le Roman Philosophique_ (1788);
_Juliette_ (1796); _La Philosophie dans le Boudoir_ (1795). These
books constitute a sort of encyclopedia of sexual perversions, an
eighteenth century _Psychopathia Sexualis_, and embody, at the
same time, a philosophy. He was the first, Bloch remarks, who
realized the immense importance of the sexual question. His
general attitude may be illustrated by the following passage (as
quoted by Lacassagne): "If there are beings in the world whose
acts shock all accepted prejudices, we must not preach at them or
punish them ... because their bizarre tastes no more depend upon
themselves than it depends on you whether you are witty or
stupid, well made or hump-backed.... What would become of your
laws, your morality, your religion, your gallows, your Paradise,
your gods, your hell, if it were shown that such and such
fluids, such fibers, or a certain acridity in the blood, or in
the animal spirits, alone suffice to make a man the object of
your punishments or your rewards?" He was enormously well read,
Bloch points out, and his interest extended to every field of
literature: _belles lettres_, philosophy, theology, politics,
sociology, ethnology, mythology, and history. Perhaps his
favorite reading was travels. He was minutely familiar with the
bible, though his attitude was extremely critical. His favorite
philosopher was Lamettrie, whom he very frequently quotes, and he
had carefully studied Machiavelli.

De Sade had foreseen the Revolution; he was an ardent admirer of
Marat, and at this period he entered into public life as a mild,
gentle, rather bald and gray-haired person. Many scenes of the
Revolution were the embodiment in real life of De Sade's
imagination; such, for instance, were the barbaric tortures
inflicted, at the instigation of Théroigne de Méricourt, on La
Belle Bouquetière. Yet De Sade played a very peaceful part in the
events of that time, chiefly as a philanthropist, spending much
of his time in the hospitals. He saved his parents-in-law from
the scaffold, although they had always been hostile to him, and
by his moderation aroused the suspicions of the revolutionary
party, and was again imprisoned. Later he wrote a pamphlet
against Napoleon, who never forgave him and had him shut up in
Charenton as a lunatic; it was a not unusual method at that time
of disposing of persons whom it was wished to put out of the way,
and, notwithstanding De Sade's organically abnormal temperament,
there is no reason to regard him as actually insane.
Royer-Collard, an eminent alienist of that period, then at the
head of Charenton, declared De Sade to be sane, and his detailed
report is still extant. Other specialists were of the same
opinion. Bloch, who quotes these opinions (_Neue Forschungen_,
etc., p. 370), says that the only possible conclusion is that De
Sade was sane, but neurasthenic, and Eulenburg also concludes
that he cannot be regarded as insane, although he was highly
degenerate. In the asylum he amused himself by organizing a
theater. Lacroix, many years later, questioning old people who
had known him, was surprised to find that even in the memory of
most virtuous and respectable persons he lived merely as an
"_aimable mauvais sujet_." It is noteworthy that De Sade aroused,
in a singular degree, the love and devotion of women, - whether or
not we may regard this as evidence of the fascination exerted on
women by cruelty. Janin remarks that he had seen many pretty
little letters written by young and charming women of the great
world, begging for the release of the "_pauvre marquis_."

Sardou, the dramatist, has stated that in 1855 he visited the
Bicêtre and met an old gardener who had known De Sade during his
reclusion there. He told that one of the marquis's amusements
was to procure baskets of the most beautiful and expensive roses;
he would then sit on a footstool by a dirty streamlet which ran
through the courtyard, and would take the roses, one by one, gaze
at them, smell them with a voluptuous expression, soak them in
the muddy water, and fling them away, laughing as he did so. He
died on the 2d of December, 1814, at the age of 74. He was almost
blind, and had long been a martyr to gout, asthma, and an
affection of the stomach. It was his wish that acorns should be
planted over his grave and his memory effaced. At a later period
his skull was examined by a phrenologist, who found it small and
well formed; "one would take it at first for a woman's head." The
skull belonged to Dr. Londe, but about the middle of the century
it was stolen by a doctor who conveyed it to England, where it
may possibly yet be found. [The foregoing account is mainly
founded on Paul Lacroix, _Revue de Paris_, 1837, and _Curiosités
de l'Histoire de France_, second series, _Procès Célèbres_, p.
225; Janin, _Revue de Paris_, 1834; Eugen Dühren (Iwan Bloch),
_Der Marquis de Sade und Seine Zeit_, third edition, 1901; id.,
_Neue Forschungen über den Marquis de Sade und Seine Zeit_, 1904;
Lacassagne, _Vacher l'Eventreur et les Crimes Sadiques_, 1899;
Paul Ginisty, _La Marquise de Sade_, 1901.]

The attempt to define sadism strictly and penetrate to its roots in De
Sade's personal temperament reveals a certain weakness in the current
conception of this sexual perversion. It is not, as we might infer, both
from the definition usually given and from its probable biological
heredity from primitive times, a perversion due to excessive masculinity.
The strong man is more apt to be tender than cruel, or at all events knows
how to restrain within bounds any impulse to cruelty; the most extreme and
elaborate forms of sadism (putting aside such as are associated with a
considerable degree of imbecility) are more apt to be allied with a
somewhat feminine organization. Montaigne, indeed, observed long ago that
cruelty is usually accompanied by feminine softness.

In the same way it is a mistake to suppose that the very feminine
woman is not capable of sadistic tendencies. Even if we take into
account the primitive animal conditions of combat, the male must
suffer as well as inflict pain, and the female must not only
experience subjection to the male, but also share in the emotions
of her partner's victory over his rivals. As bearing on these
points, I may quote the following remarks written by a lady: "It
is said that, the weaker and more feminine a woman is, the
greater the subjection she likes. I don't think it has anything
at all to do with the general character, but depends entirely on
whether the feeling of constraint and helplessness affects her
sexually. In men I have several times noticed that those who were
most desirous of subjection to the women they loved had, in
ordinary life, very strong and determined characters. I know of
others, too, who with very weak characters are very imperious
toward the women they care for. Among women I have often been
surprised to see how a strong, determined woman will give way to
a man she loves, and how tenacious of her own will may be some
fragile, clinging creature who in daily life seems quite unable
to act on her own responsibility. A certain amount of passivity,
a desire to have their emotions worked on, seems to me, so far as
my small experience goes, very common among ordinary, presumably
normal men. A good deal of stress is laid on femininity as an
attraction in a woman, and this may be so to very strong natures,
but, so far as I have seen, the women who obtain extraordinary
empire over men are those with a certain _virility_ in their
character and passions. If with this virility they combine a
fragility or childishness of appearance which appeals to a man in
another way at the same time, they appear to be irresistible."

I have noted some of the feminine traits in De Sade's temperament
and appearance. The same may often be noted in sadists whose
crimes were very much more serious and brutal than those of De
Sade. A man who stabbed women in the streets at St. Louis was a
waiter with a high-pitched, effeminate voice and boyish
appearance. Reidel, the sadistic murderer, was timid, modest, and
delicate; he was too shy to urinate in the presence of other
people. A sadistic zoöphilist, described by A. Marie, who
attempted to strangle a woman fellow-worker, had always been very
timid, blushed with much facility, could not look even children
in the eyes, or urinate in the presence of another person, or
make sexual advances to women.

Kiernan and Moyer are inclined to connect the modesty and
timidity of sadists with a disgust for normal coitus. They were
called upon to examine an inverted married woman who had
inflicted several hundred wounds, mostly superficial, with forks,
scissors, etc., on the genital organs and other parts of a girl
whom she had adopted from a "Home." This woman was very prominent
in church and social matters in the city in which she lived, so
that many clergymen and local persons of importance testified to
her chaste, modest, and even prudish character; she was found to
be sane at the time of the acts. (Moyer, _Alienist and
Neurologist_, May, 1907, and private letter from Dr. Kiernan.)

We are thus led to another sexual perversion, which is usually considered
the opposite of sadism. Masochism is commonly regarded as a peculiarly
feminine sexual perversion, in women, indeed, as normal in some degree,
and in man as a sort of inversion of the normal masculine emotional
attitude, but this view of the matter is not altogether justified, for
definite and pronounced masochism seems to be much rarer in women than
sadism.[88] Krafft-Ebing, whose treatment of this phenomenon is, perhaps,
his most valuable and original contribution to sexual psychology, has
dealt very fully with the matter and brought forward many cases. He thus
defines this perversion: "By masochism I understand a peculiar perversion
of the psychical _vita sexualis_ in which the individual affected, in
sexual feeling and thought, is controlled by the idea of being completely
and unconditionally subject to the will of a person of the opposite sex,
of being treated by this person as by a master, humiliated and abused.
This idea is colored by sexual feeling; the masochist lives in fancies in
which he creates situations of this kind, and he often attempts to realize

In a minor degree, not amounting to a complete perversion of the sexual
instinct, this sentiment of abnegation, the desire to be even physically
subjected to the adored woman, cannot be regarded as abnormal. More than
two centuries before Krafft-Ebing appeared, Robert Burton, who was no mean
psychologist, dilated on the fact that love is a kind of slavery. "They
are commonly slaves," he wrote of lovers, "captives, voluntary servants;
_amator amicæ mancipium_, as Castilio terms him; his mistress's servant,
her drudge, prisoner, bondman, what not?"[90] Before Burton's time the
legend of the erotic servitude of Aristotle was widely spread in Europe,
and pictures exist of the venerable philosopher on all fours ridden by a
woman with a whip.[91] In classic times various masochistic phenomena are
noted with approval by Ovid. It has been pointed out by Moll[92] that
there are traces of masochistic feeling in some of Goethe's poems,
especially "Lilis Park" and "Erwin und Elmire." Similar traces have been
found in the poems of Heine, Platen, Hamerling, and many other poets.[93]
The poetry of the people is also said to contain many such traces. It may,
indeed, be said that passion in its more lyric exaltations almost
necessarily involves some resort to masochistic expression. A popular lady
novelist in a novel written many years ago represents her hero, a robust
soldier, imploring the lady of his love, in a moment of passionate
exaltation, to trample on him, certainly without any wish to suggest
sexual perversion. If it is true that the Antonio of Otway's _Venice
Preserved_ is a caricature of Shaftesbury, then it would appear that one
of the greatest of English statesmen was supposed to exhibit very
pronounced and characteristic masochistic tendencies; and in more recent
days masochistic expressions have been noted as occurring in the
love-letters of so emphatically virile a statesman as Bismarck.

Thus a minor degree of the masochistic tendency may be said to be fairly
common, while its more pronounced manifestations are more common than
pronounced sadism.[94] It very frequently affects persons of a sensitive,
refined, and artistic temperament. It may even be said that this tendency
is in the line of civilization. Krafft-Ebing points out that some of the
most delicate and romantic love-episodes of the Middle Ages are distinctly
colored by masochistic emotion.[95] The increasing tendency to masochism
with increasing civilization becomes explicable if we accept Colin Scott's
"secondary law of courting" as accessory to the primary law that the male
is active, and the female passive and imaginatively attentive to the
states of the excited male. According to the secondary law, "the female
develops a superadded activity, the male becoming relatively passive and
imaginatively attentive to the psychical and bodily states of the
female."[96] We may probably agree that this "secondary law of courting"
does really represent a tendency of love in individuals of complex and
sensitive nature, and the outcome of such a receptive attitude on the part
of the male is undoubtedly in well-marked cases a desire of submission to
the female's will, and a craving to experience in some physical or psychic
form, not necessarily painful, the manifestations of her activity.

When we turn from vague and unpronounced forms of the masochistic tendency
to the more definite forms in which it becomes an unquestionable sexual
perversion, we find a very eminent and fairly typical example in Rousseau,
an example all the more interesting because here the subject has himself
portrayed his perversion in his famous _Confessions_. It is, however, the
name of a less eminent author, the Austrian novelist, Sacher-Masoch, which
has become identified with the perversion through the fact that
Krafft-Ebing fixed upon it as furnishing a convenient counterpart to the
term "sadism." It is on the strength of a considerable number of his
novels and stories, more especially of _Die Venus im Pelz_, that
Krafft-Ebing took the scarcely warrantable liberty of identifying his
name, while yet living, with a sexual perversion.

Sacher-Masoch's biography has been written with intimate
knowledge and much candor by C.F. von Schlichtegroll
(_Sacher-Masoch und der Masochismus_, 1901) and, more indirectly,
by his first wife Wanda von Sacher-Masoch in her autobiography
(_Meine Lebensbeichte_, 1906; French translation, _Confession de
ma Vie_, 1907). Schlichtegroll's book is written with a somewhat
undue attempt to exalt his hero and to attribute his misfortunes
to his first wife. The autobiography of the latter, however,
enables us to form a more complete picture of Sacher-Masoch's
life, for, while his wife by no means spares herself, she clearly
shows that Sacher-Masoch was the victim of his own abnormal
temperament, and she presents both the sensitive, refined,
exalted, and generous aspects of his nature, and his morbid,
imaginative, vain aspects.

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was born in 1836 at Lemberg in Galicia.
He was of Spanish, German, and more especially Slavonic race. The
founder of the family may be said to be a certain Don Matthias
Sacher, a young Spanish nobleman, in the sixteenth century, who
settled in Prague. The novelist's father was director of police
in Lemberg and married Charlotte von Masoch, a Little Russian
lady of noble birth. The novelist, the eldest child of this
union, was not born until after nine years of marriage, and in
infancy was so delicate that he was not expected to survive. He
began to improve, however, when his mother gave him to be suckled
to a robust Russian peasant woman, from whom, as he said later,
he gained not only health, but "his soul"; from her he learned
all the strange and melancholy legends of her people and a love
of the Little Russians which never left him. While still a child
young Sacher-Masoch was in the midst of the bloody scenes of the
revolution which culminated in 1848. When he was 12 the family
migrated to Prague, and the boy, though precocious in his
development, then first learned the German language, of which he
attained so fine a mastery. At a very early age he had found the
atmosphere, and even some of the most characteristic elements, of
the peculiar types which mark his work as a novelist.

It is interesting to trace the germinal elements of those
peculiarities which so strongly affected his imagination on the
sexual side. As a child, he was greatly attracted by
representations of cruelty; he loved to gaze at pictures of
executions, the legends of martyrs were his favorite reading, and
with the onset of puberty he regularly dreamed that he was
fettered and in the power of a cruel woman who tortured him. It
has been said by an anonymous author that the women of Galicia
either rule their husbands entirely and make them their slaves or
themselves sink to be the wretchedest of slaves. At the age of
10, according to Schlichtegroll's narrative, the child Leopold
witnessed a scene in which a woman of the former kind, a certain
Countess Xenobia X., a relative of his own on the paternal side,
played the chief part, and this scene left an undying impress on
his imagination. The Countess was a beautiful but wanton
creature, and the child adored her, impressed alike by her beauty
and the costly furs she wore. She accepted his devotion and
little services and would sometimes allow him to assist her in
dressing; on one occasion, as he was kneeling before her to put
on her ermine slippers, he kissed her feet; she smiled and gave

Online LibraryHavelock EllisStudies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 3 Analysis of the Sexual Impulse; Love and Pain; The Sexual Impulse in Women → online text (page 13 of 39)