Justine or the Misfortunes of Virtue; Juliette

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Date: 1791, 1929, 1948, 1955, 1962

Region: Europe North America

Subject: Explicit Sexuality Nudity

Medium: Literature


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Artist: D.A.F. Marquis de Sade (1740-1814)

Confronting Bodies: French authorities, U.S. Customs, The Church, British Customs

Dates of Action: 1791, 1929, 1948, 1955, 1962

Location: France, United States, Italy, England

Description of Artwork: Justine or the Misfortunes of Virtue, (1791) and Juliette, (1798): Play and novel with sexually graphic images and ideas.

The Incident: 1791, France: The authorities doggedly suppressed Justine or the Misfortunes of Virtue and later, Juliette. 1955, Paris, France: A complete edition of the works of Sade in 26 volumes, begun in 1947, completed in 1954 came to the attention of the Commission Consultative, which under a decree of 1940, was empowered to advise the Minister of Justice to initiate prosecutions.

Results of Incident: 1791, France: The Marquis spent much of his life in prison. Grandmothers, misled by the title, are said to have given Justine or the Misfortunes of Virtue to their frivolous granddaughters to read as an object lesson. 1929, United States: L'Oeuvre du Marquis de Sade, from which the term "sadism" was derived, remained on the list of prohibited Customs importations, although pirated editions circulated surreptitiously within the barrier.

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1948, Italy: Books still listed on the Index.

1955,Paris, France: Despite such notable witnesses for the defense as Jean Cocteau, the publishers were fined and the books ordered destroyed, although most of them had long since been sold.

1962, London, England: Justine or the Misfortunes of Virtue seized by British Customs.

1965, United States: Many of the suppressed works published openly.

Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978.