King's College London

Research portal

The Violence of Politeness: Implicit Bienséance in the Sadian Universe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-88
JournalEarly Modern French Studies
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
Published2017

King's Authors

Abstract

This article draws a distinction between implicit and explicit forms of violence in Sade's work. It employs Barthes's concept of the neutral to demonstrate that implicit violence is a more creative and nuanced way for Sade to force his readers to bend to his will. This technique relies on the concept of Sadian politeness as a kind of bienséance, in keeping with ideas of eighteenth-century doxa. Sade delineates the parameters of acceptable discourse in libertinage, and takes offence when these are crossed. The article goes on to argue that Sade's displays of explicit violence are defunct and impotent rhetorical devices which do not render credible his revolutionary credentials. Both the implicit and explicit forms of violence in his work thus show Sade to be, simply, a bon élève of the Enlightenment.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454