Gozo’s Arthall to hold lecture on the philosopher Marquis de Sade – Times of Malta

Link: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/gozo-s-arthall-hold-lecture-philosopher-marquis-de-sade.1018191

Gozo’s Arthall to hold lecture on the philosopher Marquis de Sade

The talk will be given by Erin Steele

12 de març de 2023| Times of Malta |02 min read

Portrait of Marquis de Sade (1740-1814). Photo: Wikimedia CommonsPortrait of Marquis de Sade (1740-1814). Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Gozitan art gallery Arthall in Victoria will be hosting a talk on the French novelist and philosopher Marquis de Sade and his influence on Western culture.

The talk will be given by Erin Steele, who enjoys pondering the complexities of human motivation and tackling controversial philosophical subjects. It will take place at Arthall on Friday at 7.30pm.

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade was a French aristocrat and author who was famous for his libertine lifestyle and his writings on sexuality.

He was arrested or committed on several occasions over his lifetime, spending over 30 years of his life imprisoned, accused of abusive sexual practices and obscene writings.

But beyond his notorious reputation, who was he really? asks Steele.

“The Marquis de Sade has the distinction of being one of the few humans in history whose name has become a shorthand for a personality trait, with ‘sadism’ becoming shorthand for attaining personal pleasure by inflicting pain on another,” says the speaker.

He was famous for his libertine lifestyle and his writings on sexuality


“But, as with Machiavelli, whose political theories extend far beyond the idea that it is acceptable to use any means necessary to achieve one’s goals, De Sade’s actual philosophies may have been obscured, as De Sade the man was reduced in our collective consciousness to merely an adjective derived from his name.”

Despite (or maybe because) of De Sade’s scandalous behaviour and writings, the speaker maintains he was influential to many philosophers, writers and artists, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Charles Baudelaire, and Alexander Swinburne, among many others.


The poster of the event.
The poster of the event.


De Sade also influenced modern psychology, with Sigmund Freud saying he was a “psychopath” who understood the workings of the human mind better than anyone else.

Friday’s talk will explore the question: who was the real Marquis de Sade?

“Were his works intended to be actually obscene, or were they instead a satirical critique of the restrictive sexual mores of his time? Was he, in the words of cultural critic Camille Paglia, ‘the freest spirit that ever lived?’ or, as feminist academic Andrea Dworkin put it, was he simply ‘the world’s most foremost pornographer?’,” ponders Steele.

This talk will include adult themes and discussion of sexuality. However, it is not intended to explore his writings in detail, but more to examine his influence on Western thought. Therefore, the recommended age for those attending is 16+. For more information, contact Marta Obiols Fornell on e-mail arthallgozo@gmail.com or call 7705 1564. Visit: arthallgozo.com or facebook.com/ArtHallGozo.