The original scroll on which the infamous Marquis de Sade wrote The 120 Days of Sodom, his novel on sexual depravity, pedophilia, cruelty and murder, has returned to France.
Sade’s book was written in tiny writing on a narrow 12m-long strip of parchment in just 37 days while he was imprisoned in the Bastille and hidden in his cell. It was found when the jail was stormed during the French Revolution.It has changed hands and been fought over several times in the centuries since, its ownership causing almost as much controversy as its contents.
Now the parchment, bought by a French manuscript dealer, will go on display at a private museum in Paris to mark the 200th anniversary of the author’s death.
Sade’s work details the depraved behavior of four wealthy French libertines who rape, torture and finally murder their victims, who are mostly teenage girls in a remote medieval castle, in order to experience extreme sexual gratification.
The story remained unpublished until 1904 when it was obtained by a German psychiatrist who regarded it having scientific importance.
It has since been translated into many languages, and frequently banned as obscene. Feminist writer Andrea Dworkin has condemned it as “vile pornography” and described Sade as the embodiment of misogyny.
In 1929, the scroll was bought by a member of the Noailles family who was a direct descendant of Sade. It was later stolen, smuggled into Switzerland and sold to a collector. A furious international legal wrangle ensued with a French court ordering it to be returned to the Noailles family, only to be overruled in 1998 by a Swiss court that declared it had been bought by the collector in good faith.
It was first put on display near Geneva in 2004. Gerard Lheritier, president and founder of Aristophil, a company specializing in rare manuscripts, who bought the scroll for 7 million euros (US$9.6 million), will put it on display at the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris, which he owns.
NASA scientists on Friday presented striking early images from the picture-perfect landing of the Mars rover Perseverance, including a selfie of the six-wheeled vehicle dangling just above the surface of the Red Planet moments before touchdown. The color photograph, likely to become an instant classic among memorable images from the history of spaceflight, was snapped by a camera mounted on the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent-stage just above the rover as the car-sized space vehicle was being lowered on Thursday to Martian soil. The image was unveiled by mission managers during an online news briefing Webcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near
Malaysian police have arrested the founder of a “sugar daddy” dating Web site under anti-prostitution laws after it boasted that thousands of young students were using the service, officials said yesterday. The Web site bills itself as a place “where romance meets finance” and it aims to link up older men with younger women, with the men expected to provide financial support for their companions. However, it sparked an uproar last week after releasing statistics purportedly showing that thousands of students were using it to make money, leading one university to condemn the claims. Police said they had arrested the 34-year-old founder of
China’s military yesterday said that four of its soldiers were killed in a mountain border clash with Indian forces last year, the first time that Beijing has publicly stated that its side had casualties in the deadliest incident between the Asian giants in nearly 45 years. India at the time announced that it had lost 20 of its soldiers in the June fighting atop a ridge in the Karakoram Mountains in the Ladakh region. Soldiers used their fists, clubs, stones and other improvised weapons to avoid an out-and-out firefight. China was believed to have also sustained casualties, but did not provide any details,
Dubai’s royal family on Friday said that Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was being “cared for at home” after the UN demanded proof that she was still alive following “disturbing” footage aired this week. The UN Human Rights Office said it had asked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for evidence after the BBC published video shot by the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum saying she was being held captive and feared for her life. Sheikh Mohammed is the vice president and prime minister of the UAE, of which Dubai is one of the seven