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Table of contents
First digital edition 2017 by Anna Ruggieri
The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Licentiousness (Les 120 journées de Sodome ou l'école du libertinage ) is a novel by the French writer and nobleman Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, written in 1785. It tells the story of four wealthy male libertines who resolve to experience the ultimate sexual gratification in orgies. To do this, they seal themselves away for four months in an inaccessible castle with a harem of 46 victims, mostly young male and females, and engage four women brothel keepers to tell the stories of their lives and adventures. The women's narratives form an inspiration for the sexual abuse and torture of the victims, which gradually mounts in intensity and ends in their slaughter. The work remained unpublished until the twentieth century. In recent times it has been translated into many languages, including English, Japanese and German. Due to its themes of sexual violence and extreme cruelty, it has frequently been banned. Please be forewarned that much of the content of this novella is extremely sexually graphic and at times violent. Read at your own volition and emotional risk.
The extensive wars wherewith Louis XIV was burdened during his reign, while draining the State's treasury and exhausting the substance of the people, none the less contained the secret that led to the prosperity of a swarm of those bloodsuckers who are always on the watch for public calamities, which, instead of appeasing, they promote or invent so as, precisely, to be able to profit from them the more advantageously. The end of this so very sublime reign was perhaps one of the periods in the history of the French Empire when one saw the emergence of the greatest number of these mysterious fortunes whose origins are as obscure as the lust and debauchery that accompany them. It was toward the close of this period, and not long before the Regent sought, by means of the famous tribunal which goes under the name of the Chambre de Justice, to flush this multitude of traffickers, that four of them conceived the idea for the singular revels whereof we are going to give an account. One must not suppose that it was exclusively the low-born and vulgar sort which did this swindling; gentlemen of the highest note led the pack. The Duc de Blangis and his brother the Bishop of X***, each of whom had thuswise amassed immense fortunes, are in themselves solid proof that, like the others, the nobility neglected no opportunities to take this road to wealth. These two illustrious figures, through their pleasures and business closely associated with the celebrated Durcet and the Président de Curval, were the first to hit upon the debauch we propose to chronicle, and having communicated the scheme to their two friends, all four agreed to assume the major roles in these unusual orgies.
For above six years these four libertines, kindred through their wealth and tastes, had thought to strengthen their ties by means of alliances in which debauchery had by far a heavier part than any of the other motives that ordinarily serve as a basis for such bonds. What they arranged was as follows: the Duc de Blangis, thrice a widower and sire of two daughters one wife had given him, having noticed that the Président de Curval appeared interested in marrying the elder of these girls, despite the familiarities he knew perfectly well her father had indulged in with her, the Duc, I say, suddenly conceived the idea of a triple alliance.
"You want Julie for your wife," said he to Curval, "I give her to you unhesitatingly and put but one condition to the match: that you'll not be jealous when, although your wife, she continues to show me the same complaisance she always has in the past; what is more, I'd have you lend your voice to mine in persuading our good Durcet to give me his daughter Constance, for whom, I must confess, I have developed roughly the same feelings you have formed for Julie."
"But," said Curval, "you are surely aware that Durcet, just as libertine as you..."
"I know all that's to be known," the Duc rejoined. "In this age, and with our manner of thinking, is one halted by such things? do you think I seek a wife in order to have a mistress? I want a wife that my whims may be served, I want her to veil, to cover an infinite number of little secret debauches the cloak of marriage wonderfully conceals. In a word, I want her for the reasons you want my daughter -- do you fancy I am ignorant of your object and desires? We libertines wed women to hold slaves: as wives they are rendered more submissive than mistresses, and you know the value we set upon despotism in the joys we pursue."
It was at this point Durcet entered. His two friends related their conversation and, delighted by an overture which promptly induced him to avow the sentiments he too had conceived for Adelaide, the Président's, Durcet accepted the Duc as his son-in-law, provided he might become Curval's. The three marriages were speedily concluded, the dowries were immense, the wedding contracts identical.
No less culpable than his two colleagues, the Président had admitted to Durcet, who betrayed no displeasure upon learning it, that he maintained a little clandestine commerce with his own daughter; the three fathers, each wishing not only to preserve his rights, but noticing here the possibility of extending them, commonly agreed that the three young ladies, bound to their husbands by goods and homes only, would not in body belong more to one than to any of them, and the severest punishments were prescribed for her who should take it into her head not to comply with any of the conditions whereunto she was subject.
They were on the eve of realizing their plan when the Bishop of X***, already closebound through pleasure shared with his brother's two friends, proposed contributing a fourth element to the alliance should the other three gentlemen consent to his participation in the affair. This element, the Duc's second daughter and hence the Bishop's niece, was already more thoroughly his property than was generally imagined. He had effected connections with his sister-in-law and the two brothers knew beyond all shadow of doubt that the existence of this maiden, who was called Aline, was far more accurately to be ascribed to the Bishop than to the Duc; the former who, from the time she left the cradle, had taken the girl into his keeping, had not, as one may well suppose, stood idle as the years brought her charms to flower. And so, upon this head, he was his colleagues' equal, and the article he offered to put on the market was in an equal degree damaged or degraded; but as Aline's attractions and tender youth outshone even those of her three companions, she was unhesitatingly made a part of the bargain. As had the other three, the Bishop yielded her up, but retained the rights to her use; and so each of our four characters thus found himself husband to four wives. Thus there resulted an arrangement which, for the reader's convenience, we shall recapitulate:
The Duc, Julie's father, became the husband of Constance, Durcet's daughter;
Durcet, Constance's father, became the husband of Adelaide, the Président's daughter;
The Président, Adelaide's father, became the husband of Julie, the Duc's elder daughter;
And the Bishop, Aline's uncle and father, became the husband of the other three females by ceding this same Aline to his friends, the while retaining the same rights over her.
It was at a superb estate of the Duc, situated in the Bourbonnais, that these happy matches were made, and I leave to the reader to fancy how they were consummated and in what orgies; obliged as we are to describe others, we shall forego the pleasure of picturing these.
Upon their return to Paris, our four friends' association became only the firmer; and as our next task is to make the reader familiar with them, before proceeding to individual and more searching developments, a few details of their lubricious arrangements will serve, it seems to me, to shed a preliminary light upon the character of these debauchees.
The society had created a common fund, which each of its members took his turn administering for six months; the sums, allocated for nothing but expenses in the interests of pleasure, were vast. Their excessive wealth put the most unusual things within their reach, and the reader ought not be surprised to hear that two million were annually disbursed to obtain good cheer and lust's satisfaction.
Four accomplished procuresses to recruit women, and a similar number of pimps to scout out men, had the sole duty to range both the capital and the provinces and bring back everything, in the one gender and in the other, that could best satisfy their sensuality's demands. Four supper parties were held regularly every week in four different country houses located at four extremities of Paris. At the first of these gatherings, the one exclusively given over to the pleasures of sodomy, only men were present; there would always be at hand sixteen young men, ranging in age from twenty to thirty, whose immense faculties permitted our four heroes, in feminine guise, to taste the most agreeable delights. The youths were selected solely upon the basis of the size of their member, and it almost became necessary that this superb limb be of such magnificence that it could never have penetrated any woman; this was an essential clause, and as naught was spared by way of expense, only very rarely would it fail to be fulfilled. But simultaneously to sample every pleasure, to these sixteen husbands was joined the same quantity of boys, much younger, whose purpose was to assume the office of women. These lads were from twelve to eighteen years old, and to be chosen for service each had to possess a freshness, a face, graces, charms, an air, an innocence, a candor which are far beyond what our brush could possibly paint. No woman was admitted to these masculine orgies, in the course of which everything of the lewdest invented in Sodom and Gomorrah was executed.
At the second supper were girls of superior class who, upon these occasions forced to give up their proud ostentation and the customary insolence of their bearing, were constrained, in return for their hire, to abandon themselves to the most irregular caprices, and often even to the outrages our libertines were pleased to inflict upon them. Twelve of these girls would appear, and as Paris could not have furnished a fresh supply of them as often as would have been necessary, these evenings were interspersed with others at which were admitted, only in the same number as the well-bred ladies, women ranging from procuresses up through the class of officers' wives. There are above four or five thousand in Paris who belong to one or the other of the two latter classes and whom need or lust obliges to attend soirees of this kind; one has but to have good agents to find them, and our libertines, who were splendidly represented, would frequently come across miraculous specimens. But it was in vain one was honest or a decent woman, one had to submit everything: our Lordships' libertinage, of a variety that never brooks limits, would overwhelm with horrors and infamies whatever, whether by Nature or social convention, ought to have been exempt from such ordeals. Once one was there, one had to be ready for anything, and as our four villains had every taste that accompanies the lowest, most crapulous debauch, this fundamental acquiescence to their desires was not by any means a matter of inconsequence.
The guests at the third supper were the vilest, foulest creatures that can possibly be met with. To him who has some acquaintance with debauchery's extravagances, this refinement will appear wholly understandable; 'tis most voluptuous to wallow, so to speak, in filth with persons of this category; these exercises offer the completest abandon, the most monstrous intemperance, the most total abasement, and these pleasures, compared with those tasted the evening before, or with the distinguished individuals in whose company we have tasted them, have a way of lending a sharp spice to earlier activities. At these third suppers, debauch being more thorough, nothing was omitted that might render it complex and piquant. A hundred whores would appear in the course of six hours, and only too often something less than the full hundred would leave the games. But there is nothing to be gained by hurrying our story or by broaching subjects which can only receive adequate treatment in the sequel.
As for the fourth supper, it was reserved for young maids; only those between the ages of seven and fifteen were permitted. Their condition in life was of no importance, what counted was their looks: they had to be charming; as for their virginity, authentic evidence was required. Oh, incredible refinement of libertinage! It was not, assuredly, that they wished to pluck all those roses, and how indeed could they have done so? for those untouched flowers were always a score in number, and of our four libertines only two were capable of proceeding to the act, one of the remaining two, the financier, being absolutely incapable of an erection, and the Bishop being absolutely unable to take his pleasure save in a fashion which, yes, I agree, may dishonor a virgin but which, however, always leaves her perfectly intact. No matter; the twenty maiden-heads had to be there, and those which were not impaired by our quartet of masters became, before their eyes, the prey of certain of their valets just as depraved as they, whom they kept constantly at beck and call for more than one reason.
Apart from these four supper parties there was another, a secret and private one held every Friday, involving many fewer persons but surely costing a great deal more. The participants were restricted to four young and high-born damsels who, by means of strategy and money, had been abducted from their parents' homes. Our libertines' wives nearly always had a share in this debauch, and their extreme submissiveness, their docile attentions, their services made it more of a success each time. As for the genial atmosphere at these suppers, it goes without saying that even greater profusion than delicacy reigned there; not one of these meals cost less than ten thousand francs, and neighboring countries as well as all France were ransacked so that what was of the rarest and most exquisite might be assembled together. Fine and abundant wines and liqueurs were there, and even during the winter they had fruits of every season; in a word, one may be certain that the table of the world's greatest monarch was not dressed with as much luxury nor served with equal magnificence.
But now let us retrace our steps and do our best to portray one by one each of our four heroes -- to describe each not in terms of the beautiful, not in a manner that would seduce or captivate the reader, but simply with the brush strokes of Nature which, despite all her disorder, is often sublime, indeed even when she is at her most depraved. For -- and why not say so in passing -- if crime lacks the kind of delicacy one finds in virtue, is not the former always more sublime, does it not unfailingly have a character of grandeur and sublimity which surpasses, and will always make it preferable to, the monotonous and lackluster charms of virtue? Will you protest the greater usefulness of this or of that, is it for us to scan Nature's laws, ours to determine whether, vice being just as necessary to Nature as is virtue, she perhaps does not implant in us, in equal quantity, the penchant for one or the other, depending upon her respective needs? But let us proceed.
The Duc de Blangis, at eighteen the master of an already colossal fortune which his later speculations much increased, experienced all the difficulties which descend like a cloud of locusts upon a rich and influential young man who need not deny himself anything; it almost always happens in such cases that the extent of one's vices, and one stints oneself that much less the more one has the means to procure oneself everything. Had the Duc received a few elementary qualities from Nature, they might possibly have counter-balanced the dangers which beset him in his position, but this curious mother, who sometimes seems to collaborate with chance in order that the latter may favor every vice she gives to those certain beings of whom she expects attentions very different from those virtue supposes, and this because she has just as much need of the one as of the other, Nature, I say, in destining Blangis for immense wealth, had meticulously endowed him with every impulse, every inspiration required for its abuse. Together with a tenebrous and very evil mind, she had accorded him a heart of flint and an utterly criminal soul, and these were accompanied by the disorders in tastes and irregularity of whim whence were born the dreadful libertinage to which the Duc was in no common measure addicted. Born treacherous, harsh, imperious, barbaric, selfish as lavish in the pursuit of pleasure as miserly when it were a question of useful spending, a liar, a gourmand, a drunk, a dastard, a sodomite, fond of incest, given to murdering, to arson, to theft, no, not a single virtue compensated that host of vices. Why, what am I saying! not only did he never so much as dream of a single virtue, he beheld them all with horror, and he was frequently heard to say that to be truly happy in this world a man ought not merely fling himself into every vice, but should never permit himself one virtue, and that it was not simply a matter of always doing evil, but also and above all of never doing good.
"Oh, there are plenty of people," the Duc used to observe, "who never misbehave save when passion spurs them to ill; later, the fire gone out of them, their now calm spirit peacefully returns to the path of virtue and, thus passing their life going from strife to error and from error to remorse, they end their days in such a way there is no telling just what roles they have enacted on earth. Such persons," he would continue, "must surely be miserable: forever drifting, continually undecided, their entire life is spent detesting in the morning what they did the evening before. Certain to repent of the pleasures they taste, they take their delight in quaking, in such sort they become at once virtuous in crime and criminal in virtue. “However," our hero would add, "my more solid character is a stranger to these contradictions; I do my choosing without hesitation, and as I am always sure to find pleasure in the choice I make, never does regret arise to dull its charm. Firm in my principles because those I formed are sound and were formed very early, I always act in accordance with them; they have made me understand the emptiness and nullity of virtue; I hate virtue, and never will I be seen resorting to it. They have persuaded me that through vice alone is man capable of experiencing this moral and physical vibration which is the source of the most delicious voluptuousness; so I give myself over to vice. I was still very young when I learned to hold religion's fantasies in contempt, being perfectly convinced that the existence of a creator is a revolting absurdity in which not even children continue to believe. I have no need to thwart my inclinations in order to flatter some god; these instincts were given me by Nature, and it would be to irritate her were I to resist them; if she gave me bad ones, that is because they were necessary to her designs. I am in her hands but a machine which she runs as she likes, and not one of my crimes does not serve her: the more she urges me to commit them, the more of them she needs; I should be a fool to disobey her. Thus, nothing but the law stands in my way, but I defy the law, my gold and my prestige keep me well beyond reach of those vulgar instruments of repression which should be employed only upon the common sort."
If one were to raise the objection that, nevertheless, all men possess ideas of the just and the unjust which can only be the product of Nature, since these notions are found in every people and even amongst the uncivilized, the Duc would reply affirmatively, saying that yes, those ideas have never been anything if not relative, that the stronger has always considered exceedingly just what the weaker regarded as flagrantly unjust, and that it takes no more than the mere reversal of their positions for each to be able to change his way of thinking too; whence the Duc would conclude that nothing is really just but what makes for pleasure, and what is unjust is the cause of pain; that in taking a hundred louis from a man's pocket, he was doing something very just for himself, although the victim of the robbery might have to regard the action with another eye; that all these notions therefore being very arbitrary, a fool he who would allow himself to become their thrall. It was by means of arguments in this kind the Duc used to justify his transgressions, and as he was a man of greatest possible wit, his arguments had a decisive ring. And so, modeling his conduct upon his philosophy, the Duc had, from his most tender youth, abandoned himself unrestrainedly to the most shameful extravagances, and to the most extraordinary ones. His father, having died young and, as I indicated, left him in control of a huge fortune, had however stipulated in his will that the young man's mother should, while she lived, be allowed to enjoy a large share of this legacy. Such a condition was not in displeasing Blangis: poison appearing to be the only way to avoid having to subscribe to this article, the knave straightway decided to make use of it. But this was the period when he was only making his first steps in a vicious career; not daring to act himself, he brought one of his sisters, with whom he was carrying on a criminal intrigue, to take charge of the execution, assuring her that if she were to succeed, he would see to it that she would be the beneficiary of that part of the fortune whereof death would deprive their mother. However, the young lady was horrified by this proposal, and the Duc, observing that this ill-confided secret was perhaps going to betray him, decided on the spot to extend his plans to include the sister he had hoped to have for an accomplice; he conducted both women to one of his properties whence the two unfortunate ones never returned. Nothing quite encourages as does one's first unpunished crime. This hurdle once cleared, an open field seemed to beckon to the Duc. Immediately any person whomsoever showed opposition to his desires, poison was employed forthwith. From necessary murders he soon passed to those of pure pleasure; he was captivated by that regrettable folly which causes us to find delight in the sufferings of others; he noticed that a violent commotion inflicted upon any kind of an adversary is answered by a vibrant thrill in our own nervous system; the effect of this vibration, arousing the animal spirits which flow within these nerves' con-cavities, obliges them to exert pressure on the erector nerves and to produce in accordance with this perturbation what is termed a lubricious sensation. Consequently, he set about committing thefts and murders in the name of debauchery and libertinage, just as someone else would be content, in order to inflame these same passions, to chase a whore or two. At the age of twenty-three, he and three of his companions in vice, whom he had indoctrinated with his philosophy, made up a party whose aim was to go out and stop a public coach on the highway, to rape the men among the travelers along with the women, to assassinate them afterward, to make off with their victims' money (the conspirators certainly had no need of this), and to be back that same night, all three of them, at the Opera Ball in order to have a sound alibi. This crime took place, ah, yes: two charming maids were violated and massacred in their mother's arms; to this was joined an endless list of other horrors, and no one dared suspect the Duc. Weary of the delightful wife his father had bestowed upon him before dying, the young Blangis wasted no time uniting her shade to his mother's, to his sister's, and to those of all his other victims. Why all this? to be able to marry a girl, wealthy, to be sure, but publicly dishonored and whom he knew full well was her brother's mistress. The person in question was the mother of Aline, one of the figures in our novel we mentioned above. This second wife, soon sacrificed like the first, gave way to a third, who followed hard on the heels of the second. It was rumored abroad that the Duc's huge construction was responsible for the undoing of all his wives, and as this gigantic tale corresponded in every point to its gigantic inspiration, the Duc let the opinion take root and veil the truth. That dreadful colossus did indeed make one think of Hercules or a centaur: Blangis stood five foot eleven inches tall, had limbs of great strength and energy, powerful sinews, elastic nerves, in addition to that a proud and masculine visage, great dark eyes, handsome black eyelashes, an aquiline nose, fine teeth, a quality of health and exuberance, broad shoulders, a heavy chest but a well-proportioned figure withal, splendid hips, superb buttocks, the handsomest leg in the world, an iron temperament, the strength of a horse, the member of a veritable mule, wondrously hirsute, blessed with the ability to eject its sperm any number of times within a given day and at will, even at the age of fifty, which was his age at the time, a virtually constant erection in this member whose dimensions were an exact eight inches for circumference and twelve for length over-all, and there you have the portrait of the Duc de Blangis, drawn as accurately as if you'd wielded the pencil yourself. But if this masterpiece of Nature was violent in its desires, what was it like, Great God! when crowned by drunken voluptuousness? 'Twas a man no longer, 'twas a raging tiger. Woe unto him who happened then to be serving its passions; frightful cries, atrocious blasphemies sprang from the Duc's swollen breast, flames seemed to dart from his eyes, he foamed at the mouth, he whinnied like a stallion, you'd have taken him for the very god of lust. Whatever then was his manner of having his pleasure, his hands necessarily strayed, roamed continually, and he had been more than once seen to strangle woman to death at the instant of his perfidious discharge. His presence of mind once restored, his frenzy was immediately replaced by the most complete indifference to the infamies wherewith he had just indulged himself, and of this indifference, of this kind of apathy, further sparks of lechery would be born almost at once.
In his youth, the Duc had been known to discharge as often as eighteen times a day, and that without appearing one jot more fatigued after the final than after the initial ejaculation. Seven or eight crises within the same interval still held no terrors for him, his half a century of years notwithstanding. For roughly twenty-five years he had accustomed himself to passive sodomy, and he withstood its assaults with the identical vigor characterized his manner of delivering them actively when, the very next moment, it pleased him to exchange roles. He had once wagered he could sustain fifty-five attacks in a day, and so he had. Furnished, as we have pointed out, with prodigious strength, he needed only one hand to violate a girl, and he had proved it upon several occasions. One day he boasted he could squeeze the life out of a horse with his legs; he mounted the beast, it collapsed at the instant he had predicted. His prowess at the table outshone, if that is possible, what he demonstrated upon the bed. There's no imagining what had come to be the quantity of the food he consumed. He regularly ate three meals a day, and they were all three exceedingly prolonged and exceedingly copious, and it was as nothing to him to toss down his usual ten bottles of Burgundy; he had drunk up to thirty, and needed but to be challenged and he would set out for the mark of fifty; but his intoxication taking on the tinge of his passions, and liqueurs or wines having heated his brain, he would wax furious, and they would be obliged to tie him down. And despite all that, would you believe it? a steadfast child might have hurled this giant into a panic; true indeed it is that the spirit often poorly corresponds with the fleshy sheath enveloping it: as soon as Blangis discovered he could no longer use his treachery or his deceit to make away with his enemy, he would become timid and cowardly, and the mere thought of even the mildest combat, but fought on equal terms, would have sent him fleeing to the ends of the earth. He had nevertheless, in keeping with custom, been in one or two campaigns, but had acquitted himself so disgracefully he had retired from the service at once. Justifying his turpitude with equal amounts of cleverness and effrontery, he loudly proclaimed that his poltroonery being nothing other than the desire to preserve himself, it were perfectly impossible for anyone in his right senses to condemn it for a fault.
Keep in mind the identical moral traits; next, adapt them to an entity from the physical point of view infinitely inferior to the one we just described; there you have the portrait of the Bishop of X***, the Duc de Blangis' brother. The same black soul, the same penchant for crime, the same contempt for religion, the same atheism, the same deception and cunning, a yet more supple and adroit mind, however, and more art in guiding his victims to their doom, but a slender figure, not heavy, no, a little thin body, wavering health, very delicate nerves, a greater fastidiousness in the pursuit of pleasure, mediocre prowess, a most ordinary member, even small, but deft, profoundly skilled in management, each time yielding so little that his incessantly inflamed imagination would render him capable of tasting delight quite as frequently as his brother; his sensations were of a remarkable acuteness, he would experience an irritation so prodigious he would often fall into a deep swoon upon discharging, and he almost always temporarily lost consciousness when doing so.
He was forty-five, had delicate features, rather attractive eyes but a foul mouth and ugly teeth, a hairless pallid body, a small but well-shaped ass, and a prick five inches around and six in length. An idolater of active and passive sodomy, but eminently of the latter, he spent his life having himself buggered, and this pleasure, which never requires much expense of energy, was best suited to the modesty of his means. We will speak of his other tastes in good time. With what regards those of the table, he carried them nearly as far as the Duc, but went about the matter with somewhat more sensuality. Monseigneur, no less a criminal than his elder brother, possessed characteristics which had doubtless permitted him to match the celebrated feats of the hero we painted a moment ago; we will content ourselves with citing one of them, 'twill be enough to make the reader see of what such a man may be capable, and what he was prepared and disposed to do, having done the following:
One of his friends, a man powerful and rich, had formerly had an intrigue with a young noblewoman who had borne him two children, a girl and a boy. He had, however, never been able to wed her, and the maiden had become another's wife. The unlucky girl's lover died while still young, but the owner howbeit of a tremendous fortune; having no kin to provide for, it occurred to him to bequeath all he had to the two ill-fated children his affair had produced.
On his deathbed, he made the Bishop privy to his intentions and entrusted him with these two immense endowments: he divided the sum, put them in two purses, and gave them to the Bishop, confiding the two orphans' education to this man of God and enlisting him to pass on to each what was to be his when they attained their majority. At the same time he enjoyed the prelate to invest his wards' funds, so that in the meantime they would double in size. He also affirmed that it was his design to leave his offsprings' mother in eternal ignorance of what he was doing for them, and he absolutely insisted that none of this should ever be mentioned to her. These arrangements concluded, the dying man closed his eyes, and Monseigneur found himself master of about a million in banknotes, and of two children. The scoundrel was not long deliberating his next step: the dying man had spoken to no one but him, the mother was to know nothing, the children were only four or five years old. He circulated the intelligence that his friend, upon expiring, had left his fortune to the poor; the rascal acquired it the same day. But to ruin those wretched children did not suffice; furnished with authority by their father, the Bishop -- who never committed one crime without instantly conceiving another -- had the children removed from the remote pension in which they were being brought up, and placed them under the roof of certain people in his hire, from the outset having resolved soon to make them serve his perfidious lust. He waited until they were thirteen; the little boy was the first to arrive at that age: the Bishop put him to use, bent him to all his debauches, and as he was extremely pretty, sported with him for a week. But the little girl fared less well: she reached the prescribed age, but was very ugly, a fact which had no mitigating effect upon the good Bishop's lubricious fury. His desires appeased, he feared lest these children, left alive, would someday discover something of the secret of their interests. Therefore, he conducted them to an estate belonging to his brother and, sure of recapturing, by means of a new crime, the sparks of lechery enjoyment had just caused him to lose, he immolated both of them to his ferocious passions, and accompanied their death with episodes so piquant and so cruel that his voluptuousness was reborn in the midst of the torments wherewith he beset them. The thing is, unhappily, only too well known: there is no libertine at least a little steeped in vice who is not aware of the great sway murder exerts over the senses, and how voluptuously it determines a discharge. And that is a general truth whereof it were well the reader be early advised before undertaking the perusal of a work which will surely attempt an ample development of this system.
Henceforth at ease in the face of whatever might transpire, Monseigneur returned to Paris to enjoy the fruit of his misdeeds, and without the least qualms about having counteracted the intentions of a man who, in his present situation, was in no state to derive either pain or pleasure therefrom.
The Président de Curval was a pillar of society; almost sixty years of age, and worn by debauchery to a singular degree, he offered the eye not much more than a skeleton. He was tall, he was dry, thin, had two blue lusterless eyes, a livid and unwholesome mouth, a prominent chin, a long nose. Hairy as a satyr, flat-backed, with slack, drooping buttocks that rather resembled a pair of dirty rags flapping upon his upper thighs; the skin of those buttocks was, thanks to whipstrokes, so deadened and toughened that you could seize up a handful and knead it without his feeling a thing. In the center of it all there was displayed -- no need to spread those cheeks -- an immense orifice whose enormous diameter, odor, and color bore a closer resemblance to the depths of a well-freighted privy than to an asshole; and, crowning touch to these allurements, there was numbered among this sodomizing pig's little idiosyncrasies that of always leaving this particular part of himself in such a state of uncleanliness that one was at all times able to observe there a rim or pad a good two inches thick. Below a belly as wrinkled as it was livid and gummy, one perceived, within a forest of hairs, a tool which, in its erectile condition, might have been about eight inches long and seven around; but this condition had come to be the most rare and to procure it a furious sequence of things was the necessary preliminary. Nevertheless, the event occurred at least two or three times each week, and upon these occasions the Président would glide into every hole to be found, indiscriminately, although that of a young lad's behind was infinitely the most precious to him. The head of the Président's device was now at all times exposed, for he had had himself circumcised, a ceremony which largely facilitates enjoyment and to which all pleasure-loving persons ought to submit. But one of the purposes of the same operation is to keep this privity cleaner; nothing of the sort in Curval's case: this part of him was just as filthy as the other: this uncapped head, naturally quite thick to begin with, was thus made at least an inch ampler in circumference. Similarly untidy about all the rest of his person, the Président, who furthermore had tastes at the very least as nasty as his appearance, had become a figure whose rather malodorous vicinity might not have succeeded in pleasing everyone. However, his colleagues were not at all of the sort to be scandalized by such trifles, and they simply avoided discussing the matter with him. Few mortals had been as free in their behavior or as debauches as the Président; but, entirely jaded, absolutely besotted, all that remained to him was the depravation and lewd profligacy of libertinage. Above three hours of excess, and of the most outrageous excess, were needed before one could hope to inspire a voluptuous reaction in him. As for his emission, although in Curval the phenomenon was far more frequent than erection, and could be observed once every day, it was, all the same, so difficult to obtain, or it never occurred save as an aftermath to things so strange and often so cruel or so unclean, that the agents of his pleasure not uncommonly renounced the struggle, fainting by the wayside, the which would give birth in him to a kind of lubricious anger and this, through its effects, would now and again triumph where his efforts had failed. Curval was to such a point mired down in the morass of vice and libertinage that it had become virtually impossible for him to think or speak of anything else. He unendingly had the most appalling expressions in his mouth, just as he had the vilest designs in his heart, and these with surpassing energy he mingled with blasphemies and imprecations supplied him by his true horror, a sentiment he shared with his companions, for everything that smacked of religion. This disorder of mind, yet further augmented by the almost continual intoxication in which he was fond of keeping himself, had during the past few years given him an air of imbecility and prostration which, he would declare, made for his most cherished delight.
Born as great a gourmand as a drunk, he alone was fit to keep abreast of the Duc, and in the course of this tale we will behold him to perform wonders which will no doubt astonish the most veteran eaters.
It had been ten years since Curval had ceased to discharge his judicial duties; it was not simply that he was no longer fit to carry them out, but I even believe that while he had been, he may have been asked to leave these matters alone for the rest of his life.
Curval had led a very libertine life, every sort of perversion was familiar to him, and those who knew him personally had the strong suspicion he owed his vast fortune to nothing other than two or three murders. However that may be, it is, in the light of the following story, highly probable that this variety of extravagance had the power to stir him deeply, and it is this adventure, which attracted some unfortunate publicity, that was responsible for his exclusion from the Court. We are going to relate the episode in order to give the reader an idea of his character.
There dwelled in the neighborhood of Curval's town house a miserable street porter who, the father of a charming little girl, was ridiculous enough to be a person of sensibility. Twenty messages of every kind had already arrived containing proposals relating to the poor fellow's daughter; he and his wife had remained unshaken despite this barrage aimed at their corruption, and Curval, the source of these embassies, only irritated by the growing number of refusals they had evoked, knew not what tack to take in order to get his hands upon the girl and to subject her to his libidinous caprices, until it struck to him that by simply having the father broken he would lead the daughter to his bed. The thing was as nicely conceived as executed. Two or three bullies in the Président's pay intervened in the suit, and before the month was out, the wretched porter was enmeshed in an imaginary crime which seemed to have been committed at his door and which got him speedily lodged in one of the Conciergerie's dungeons. The Président, as one would expect, soon took charge of the case, and, having no desire to permit it to drag on, arranged in the space of three days, thanks to his knavery and his gold, to have the unlucky porter condemned to be broken on the wheel, without the culprit ever having committed any crime but that of wishing to preserve his honor and safeguard his daughter's.
Meanwhile, the solicitations were renewed. The mother was brought in, it was explained to her that she alone had it in her power to save her husband, that if she were to satisfy the Président, what could be clearer than that he would thereupon snatch her husband from the dreadful fate awaiting him. Further hesitation was impossible; the woman made inquiries; Curval knew perfectly well to whom she addressed herself, the counsels were his creatures, and they gave her unambiguous replies: she ought not waste a moment. The poor woman herself brought her daughter weeping to her judge's feet; the latter could not have been more liberal with his promises, nor have been less eager to keep his word. Not only did he fear lest, were he to deal honorably and spare the husband, the man might go and raise an uproar upon discovering the price that had been paid to save his life, but the scoundrel even found a further delight, a yet keener one, in arranging to have himself given what he wished without being obliged to make any return.
This thought led to others; numerous criminal possibilities entered his head, and their effect was to increase his perfidious lubricity. And this is how he set about the matter so as to put the maximum of infamy and piquancy into the scene:
His mansion stood facing a spot where criminals are sometimes executed in Paris, and as this particular offense had been committed in that quarter of the city, he won assurance the punishment would be meted out on this particular square. The wretch's wife and daughter arrived at the Président's home at the appointed hour; all windows overlooking the square were well shuttered, so that, from the apartments where he amused himself with his victims, nothing at all could be seen of what was going on outside. Apprised of the exact minute of the execution, the rascal selected it for the deflowering of the little girl who was held in her mother's arms, and everything was so happily arranged that Curval discharged into the child's ass the moment her father expired. Instantly he'd completed his business, "Come have a look," quoth he, opening a window looking upon the square, "come see how well I've kept my bargain," and one of his two princesses saw her father, the other her husband, delivering up his soul to the headsman's steel.
Both collapsed in a faint, but Curval had provided for everything: this swoon was their agony, they'd both been poisoned, and nevermore opened their eyes. Notwithstanding the precautions he had taken to swathe the whole of this exploit in the most profound mystery, something did indeed transpire: nothing was known of the women's death, but there existed a lively suspicion he had been untruthful in connection with the husband's case. His motive was half-known, and his eventual retirement from the bench was the outcome. As of this moment, no longer having to maintain appearances, Curval flung himself into a new ocean of errors and crimes. He sent everywhere for victims to sacrifice to the perversity of his tastes. Through an atrocious refinement of cruelty, but one, however, very easily understood, the downtrodden classes were those upon which he most enjoyed hurling the effects of his raging perfidy. He had several minions who were abroad night and day, scouring attics and hovels, tracking down whatever of the most destitute misery might be able to provide, and under the pretext of dispensing aid, either he envenomed his catch -- to give poison was one of his most delectable pastimes -- or he lured it to his house and slew it upon the altar of his perverse preferences. Men, women, children: anything was fuel to his rage, and at its bidding he performed excesses which would have got his head between block and blade a thousand times over were it not for the silver he distributed and the esteem he enjoyed, factors whereby he was a thousand times protected. One may well imagine such a being had no more religion than his two confreres; he without doubt detested it as sovereignly as they, but in years past had done more to wither it in others, for, in the days when his mind had been sound, it had also been clever, and he had put it to good use writing against religion; he was the author of a several works whose influence had been prodigious, and these successes, always present in his memory, still constituted one of his dearest delights.
The more we multiply the objects of our enjoyments...
(a) ...the years of a sickly childhood.
(b) Durcet is fifty-three; he is small, short, broad, thickset; an agreeable, hearty face; a very white skin; his entire body, and principally his hips and buttocks, absolutely like a woman's; his ass is cool and fresh, chubby, firm, and dimpled, but excessively agape, owing to the habit of sodomy; his prick is extraordinarily small, 'tis scarcely two inches around, no more than four inches long; it has entirely ceased to stiffen; his discharges are rare and uneasy, far from abundant and always preceded by spasms which hurl him into a kind of furor which, in turn, conducts him to crime; he has a chest like a woman's, a sweet, pleasant voice and, when in society, the best-bred manners, although his mind is without question as depraved as his colleagues'; a schoolmate of the Duc, they still sport together every day, and one of Durcet's loftiest pleasures is to have his anus tickled by the Duc's enormous member.
And such, dear reader, are the four villains in whose company I am going to have you pass a few months. I have done my best to describe them; if, as I have wished, I have made you familiar with even their most secret depths, nothing in the tale of their various follies will astonish you. I have not been able to enter into minute detail with what regards their tastes -- to have done so now would have been to impair the value and to harm the main scheme of this work. But as we move progressively along, you will have but to keep an attentive eye upon our heroes, and you'll have no trouble discerning their characteristic peccadilloes and the particular type of voluptuous mania which best suits each of them. Roughly all we can say at the present time is that they were generally susceptible of an enthusiasm for sodomy, that the four of them had themselves buggered regularly, and that they all four worshiped behinds.
The Duc, however, relative to the immensity of his weapon and, doubtless, more through cruelty than from taste, still fucked cunts with the greatest pleasure.
So also did the Président, but less frequently.
As for the Bishop, such was his supreme loathing for them the mere sight of one might have kept him limp for six months. He had never in all his life fucked but one, that belonging to his sister-in-law, and expressly to beget a child wherewith some day to procure himself the pleasures of incest; we have seen how well he succeeded.
As regards Durcet, he certainly idolized the ass with as much fervor as the Bishop, but his enjoyment of it was more accessory; his favorite attacks were directed toward a third sanctuary -- this mystery will be unveiled in the sequel. But on with the portraits essential to the intelligence of this work, and let us now give our reader an idea of these worthy husbands' four wives.
What a contrast! Constance, the Duc's wife and the daughter of Durcet, was a tall woman, slender, lovely as a picture, and modeled as if the Graces had taken pleasure in embellishing her, but the elegance of her figure in no way detracted from her freshness, she was not for that the less plumply fleshed, and the most delicious forms graced by a skin fairer than the lily, often induced one to suppose that, no, it had been Love itself who had undertaken her formation. Her face was a trifle long, her features wonderfully noble, more majesty than gentleness was in her look, more grandeur than subtlety. Her eyes were large, black, and full of fire; her mouth extremely small and ornamented by the finest teeth imaginable, she had a narrow, supple tongue, of the loveliest pink, and her breath was sweeter still than the scent of a rose. She was full-breasted, her bosom was buxom, fair as alabaster and as firm. Her back was turned in an extraordinary way, its lines sweeping deliciously down to the most artistically and the most precisely cleft ass Nature has produced in a long time. Nothing could have been more perfectly round, not very large, but firm, white, dimpled; and when it was opened, what used to peep out but the cleanest, most winsome, most delicate hole. A nuance of tenderest pink had shaded this ass, charming asylum of lubricity's sweetest pleasures, but, great God! it was not for long to preserve so many charms! Four or five attacks, and the Duc had spoiled all those graces, how quickly had they gone, and soon after her marriage Constance was become no more than the image of a beautiful lily wherefrom the tempest has of late stripped the petals away. Two round and perfectly molded thighs supported another temple, in all likelihood less delicious, but, to inclined to worship there, offering so many allurements it would be in vain were my pen to strive to describe them. Constance was almost a virgin when the Duc married her, and her father, the only man who had known her, had, as they say, left that side of her perfectly intact. The most beautiful black hair -- falling in natural curls to below her shoulders and, when one wished it thus, reaching down to the pretty fur, of the same color, which shaded that voluptuous little cunt -- made for a further adornment I might have been guilty of omitting, and lent this angelic creature, aged about twenty-two, all the charms Nature is able to lavish upon a woman. To all these amenities Constance joined a fair and agreeable wit, a spirit somewhat more elevated than it ought to have been, considering the melancholy situation fate had awarded her, for thereby she was enabled to sense all its horrors and, doubtless, she would have been happier if furnished with less delicate perceptions.
Durcet, who had raised her more as if she were a courtesan than his daughter, and who had been much more concerned to give her talents than manners, had all the same never been able totally to destroy the principles of rectitude and of virtue it seemed Nature had been pleased to engrave in her heart. She had no formal religion, no one had ever mentioned such a thing to her, the exercise of a belief was not to be tolerated in her father's household, but all that had not blotted out this modesty, this natural humility which has nothing to do with theological chimeras, and which, when it dwells in an upright, decent, and sensitive soul, is very difficult to obliterate. Never had she stepped out of her father's house, and the scoundrel had forced her, beginning at the age of twelve, to serve his crapulous pleasures. She found a world of difference in those the Duc imbibed with her, her body was noticeably altered by those formidable dimensions, and the day after the Duc had despoiled her of her maidenhead, sodomistically speaking, she had fallen dangerously ill. They believed her rectum had been irreparably damaged; but her youth, her health, and some salutary local remedies soon restored the use of that forbidden avenue to the Duc, and the luckless Constance, forced to accustom herself to this daily torture, and it was but one amongst others, entirely recovered and became adjusted to everything.
Adelaide, Durcet's wife and the daughter of the Président, had a beauty which was perhaps superior to Constance's, but of an entirely different sort. She was twenty, small and slender, of an extremely slight and delicate build, of classic loveliness, had the finest blond hair to be seen. An interesting air, a look of sensibility distributed everywhere about her, and above all in her features, gave her the quality of a heroine in a romance. Her exceptionally large eyes were blue, they expressed at once tenderness and decency; two long but narrow and remarkably drawn eyebrows adorned a forehead not very high but of such noble charm one might have thought this were modesty's very temple. Her nose, thin, a little pinched at the top, descended to assume a semi-aquiline contour; her lips inclined toward the thin, were of a bright, ripe red; a little large, her mouth was the unique flaw in this celestial physiognomy, but when it opened, there shone thirty-two pearls Nature seemed to have sown amidst roses. Her neck was a shade long, attached in a singular way, through what one judged a natural habit, her head was ever so faintly bent toward her right shoulder, especially when she was listening; but with what grace did not this interesting attitude endow her! Her breasts were small, very round, very firm, well-elevated, but there was barely enough there to fill the hand. They were like two little apples a frolicking Cupid had fetched hither from his mother's garden. Her chest was a bit narrow, it was also a very delicate chest, her belly was satin smooth, a little blond mound not much garnished with hair served as peristyle to the temple in which Venus seemed to call out for an homage. This temple was narrow to such a point you could not insert a finger therein without eliciting a cry from Adelaide; nevertheless, two lustrums had revolved since the time when, thanks to the Président, the poor child had ceased to be a virgin, either in that place or in the delicious part it remains for us to sketch. Oh, what were the attractions this second sanctuary possessed, what a flow in the line of her back, how magnificently were those buttocks cut, what whiteness there, and what dazzling rose blush! But all on all, it was on the small side. Delicate in all her lines, she was rather the sketch than the model of beauty, it seemed as though Nature had only wished to indicate in Adelaide what she had so majestically articulated in Constance. Peer into that appetizing behind, and lo! a rosebud would offer itself to your gaze, and it was in all its bloom and in the most tender pink Nature wished you to behold it; but narrow? tiny? it had only been at the price of infinite labors the Président had navigated through those straits, and he had only renewed these assaults successfully two or three times.
Durcet, less exacting, gave her little affliction in this point, but, since becoming his wife, in exchange for how many other cruel complaisances, with what a quantity of other perilous submissions had she not been obliged to purchase this little kindness? And, furthermore, turned over to the four libertines, as by their mutual consent she was, how many other cruel ordeals had she not to undergo, both of the species Durcet spared her, and of every other.
Adelaide had the mind her face suggested, that is to say, an extremely romantic mind, solitary places were the ones she preferred, and once there, she would shed involuntary tears -- tears to which we do not pay sufficient heed -- tears apparently torn from Nature by foreboding. She was recently bereft of a friend, a girl she idolized, and this frightful loss constantly haunted her imagination. As she was thoroughly acquainted with her father, as she knew to what extents he carried his wild behavior, she was persuaded her young friend had fallen prey to the Président's villainies, for he had never managed to induce the missing person to accord him certain privileges. The thing was not unlikely. Adelaide imagined the same would someday befall her; nor was that improbable. The Président, in her regard, had not paid the same attention to the problem of religion Durcet had in the interests of Constance, no, he had allowed all that nonsense to be born, to be fomented, supposing that his writings and his discourses would easily destroy it. He was mistaken: religion is the nourishment upon which a soul such as Adelaide's feeds. In vain the Président had preached, in vain he had made her read books, the young lady had remained a believer, and all these extravagances, which she did not share, which she hated, of which she was the victim, fell far short of disabusing her about illusions which continued to make for her life's happiness. She would go and hide herself to pray to God, she'd perform Christian duties on the sly, and was unfailingly and very severely punished, either by her father or her husband, when surprised in the act by the one or the other.
Adelaide patiently endured it all, fully convinced Heaven would someday reward her. Her character was as gentle as her spirit, and her benevolence, one of the virtues for which her father most detested her, went to the point of extreme. Curval, whom that vile class of the poverty-stricken irritated, sought only to humiliate it, to further depress it, or to wring victims from it; his generous daughter, on the other hand, would have foregone her own necessities to procure them for the poor, and she had often been espied stealing off to take to the needy sums which were intended for her pleasures. Durcet and the Président finally succeeded in scolding and pounding good manners into her, and in ridding her of this corrupt practice by withholding absolutely all means whereby she could resume it. Adelaide, having nothing left but her tears to bestow upon the poor, went none the less to sprinkle them upon their woes, and her powerless howbeit staunchly sensitive spirit was incapable of ceasing to be virtuous. One day she learned that some poor woman was to come to prostitute her daughter to the Président because extreme need bade her do so; the enchanted old rake was already preparing himself for the kind of pleasure-taking he liked best. Adelaide had one of her dresses sold and immediately got the money put it in the mother's hands; by means of this small assistance and some sort of a sermon, she diverted the woman from the she was about to commit. Hearing of what she had done, the Président proceeded to such violences with her -- his daughter was not yet married at the time -- that she was a fortnight abed; but all that was to no avail: nothing could put a stop to this gentle soul's tender impulses.
Julie, the Président's wife, the Duc's elder daughter, would have eclipsed the two preceding women were it not for something which many behold as a capital defect, but which had perhaps in itself aroused Curval's passion for her, so true it is that the effects of passion are unpredictable, nay, inconceivable, and that their disorder, the outcome of disgust and satiety, can only be matched by their irregular flights. Julie was tall, well made although quite fat and fleshy, had the most lovely brown eyes in the world, a charming nose, striking and gracious features, the most beautiful chestnut brown hair, a fair body of the most appetizing fullness, an ass which might easily have served as model to the one Praxiteles sculpted, her cunt was hot, strait, and yielded as agreeable a sensation as such a locale ever may; her legs were handsome, her feet charming, but she had the worst-decked mouth, the foulest teeth, and was by habit so dirty in every other part of her body, and principally at the two temples of lubricity, that no other being, let me repeat it, no other being but the Président, himself subject to the same shortcomings and unquestionably fond of them, nay, no one else, despite her allurements, could have put up with Julie. Curval, however, was mad about her; his most divine pleasures were gathered upon that stinking mouth, to kiss it plunged him into delirium, and as for her natural uncleanliness, far from rebuking her for it, to the contrary he encouraged her in it, and had finally got her accustomed to a perfect divorce from water. To these faults Julie added a few others, but they were surely less disagreeable: she was a vast eater, she had a leaning toward drunkenness, little virtue, and I believe that had she dared try it, whoredom would have held little by way of terror for her. Brought up by the Duc in a total abandon of principles and manners, she adopted a whore's philosophy, and she was probably an apt student of all its tenets; but, through yet another very curious effect of libertinage, it often happens that a woman who shares our faults pleases us a great deal less in our pleasures than one who is full of naught but virtues: the first resembles us, we scandalize her not; the other is terrified, and there is one very certain charm more.
Despite his proportions, the Duc had sported with his daughter, but he had had to wait until she was fifteen, and even so had not been able to prevent Julie from being considerably damaged by the adventure, indeed, so much so that, eager to marry her off, he had been forced to put a term to pleasure-taking of this variety and to be content with delights less dangerous for her, but at least as fatiguing. Julie gained little by gaining the Président, whose prick, as we know, was exceedingly thick and, furthermore, however much she was dirty from neglect of herself, she could not in any wise keep up with a filthiness in debauch such as the one that distinguished the Président, her beloved spouse.
Aline, Julie's younger sister and really the daughter of the Bishop, possessed habits and defects and a character very unlike her sister's.