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Jacqueline, Daughter of the Marquis de Sade

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K&G Publications, Hemel Hempstead, 1968
(price: 9/6, 160 pages)

The blurb on the back:

To a publishing company, every book is an event, but once in a while a manuscript appears that electrifies even the most sophisticated editor. Such a manuscript, or book, is "Jacqueline: Daughter of de Sade", an infamous book of shocking and hitherto unknown letters written by 23-year-old Jacqueline de Prozinard to her "natural" father, the utterly unnatural Marquis de Sade during his confinement in Charenton Asylum, to which he had been sent because of his incorrigible debauchery.
According to the claims of the translator, Jean-Paul Denard, these letters were discovered by him in the French national archives during a research project. Elated by his astonishing "find", Denard's literary interest soon gave way to outrage as he read through the bundle of letters. Clearly this was a case of "like father, like daughter", as Jacqueline proved beyond all doubt that where cruelty and perverse sexuality were concerned she was more than a match for her infamous parent.
"MUST reading for the many thousands who have delighted in the writings of the Incredible Marquis."
Cavalcade magazine

This is not a novel, Father, it is not written to satisfy your jaded tastes. It is pure fact, the unadorned truth, and cannot admit of the embellishments of fantasy.

Okay, pay attention 'cos this is serious stuff. This isn't fiction. Oh no, this is a sensational literary find - a collection of letters addressed to the Marquis de Sade during his incarceration in Charenton Asylum, and written by a woman named Jacqueline, who claims to be his daughter. Her mother, according to her own account was a certain Cecile, whom he 'seduced nearly twenty-three years ago in a chateau near Marseilles.'

The letters - for whose discovery and translation into English we must thank that great legal scholar Jean-Paul Denard - tell the tale of Jacqueline's career from her education in a nunnery onwards. Mostly this is a pale imitation of the Divine Marquis' vivid imagination - she shoots arrows at a man who likes to re-enact the martyrdoms of the saints, that kind of thing - and has little intrinsic value. But the form of the book is interesting, in its recreation of the 18th century epistolary novel, and there is something intriguing about its appearance in 1968.

This was the period when de Sade's works were becoming widely available for the first time ever in Britain. The Olympia Press editions of the 1950s, published in English in Paris, had started the process, but in the post-Lady Chatterley climate of the mid-60s it became clear that an above-ground publication in Britain was possible for the first time ever. Until, that is, the paperback edition of Justine was cited in the trial of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, and de Sade was again banished to the netherworld of the unacceptable.

Jacqueline (neat choice of name, by the way) was presumably commissioned at a time when de Sade was trying to edge his way into acceptability. The price of the book (twice that of a normal paperback) suggests that it was always aimed at a porn market, but there must have been hopes at some point that it might attract a wider market than it did.

So is it any good? Well, it's not a disaster. It's reasonably written, if derivative, and the cover is quite a nice sub-Beardsley piece. But mostly it's just a curio for the de Sade enthusiast. Which is why I bought it, obviously.

Incidentally, the British Library catalogue suggests that M. Denard may actually be Australian.


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The Son of Fanny Hill