Philosophy in the Bedroom
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Philosophy in the Bedroom is a 1795 book by the Marquis de Sade written in the form of a dramatic dialogue. Though initially considered a work of pornography, the book has come to be considered a socio-political drama. Set in a bedroom, the seven dialogues concern Eugenie, a virgin, who has been sent to the house of Madame de Saint-Ange by her father, to be instructed in the ways of the libertine. Along with Le Chevalier de Mirval, (Madame de Saint-Ange's 20-year-old brother), and Dolmancé, a 36-year-old atheist and bisexual, they all teach her their ways. When her mother shows up, she is punished for bringing her daughter up with 'false virtues'.
This book has 176 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1795.
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Excerpt from 'Philosophy in the Bedroom'
MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE — Good day, my friend. And what of Monsieur Dolmancé?
LE CHEVALIER — He'll be here promptly at four; we do not dine until seven—and will have, as you see, ample time to chat.
MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE — You know, my dear brother, I do begin to have a few misgivings about my curiosity and all the obscene plans scheduled for today. Chevalier, you overindulge me, truly you do. The more sensible I should be, the more excited and libertine this accursed mind of mine becomes—and all that you have given me but serves to spoil me… At twenty-six, I should be sober and staid, and I'm still nothing but the most licentious of women... Oh, I've a busy brain, my friend; you'd scarce believe the ideas I have, the things I'd like to do. I supposed that by confining myself to women I would become better behaved...; that were my desires concentrated upon my own sex I would no longer pant after yours: pure fantasy, my friend; my imagination has only been pricked the more by the pleasures I thought to deprive myself of. I have discovered that when it is a question of someone like me, born for libertinage, it is useless to think of imposing limits or restraints upon oneself—impetuous desires immediately sweep them away. In a word, my dear, I am an amphibious creature: I love everything, everyone, whatever it is, it amuses me; I should like to combine every species—but you must admit, Chevalier, is it not the height of extravagance for me to wish to know this unusual Dolmancé who in all his life, you tell me, has been unable to see a woman according to the prescriptions of common usage, this Dolmancé who, a sodomite out of principle, not only worships his own sex but never yields to ours save when we consent to put at his disposal those so well beloved charms of which he habitually makes use when consorting with men?
Tell me, Chevalier, if my fancy is not bizarre! I want to be Ganymede to this new Jupiter, I want to enjoy his tastes, his debauches, I want to be the victim of his errors. Until now, and well you know it, my friend, until now I have given myself thus only to you, through complaisance, or to a few of my servants who, paid to use me in this manner, adopted it for profit only. But today it is no longer the desire to oblige nor is it caprice that moves me, but solely my own penchants. I believe that, between my past experiences with this curious mania and the courtesies to which I am going to be subjected, there is an inconceivable difference, and I wish to be acquainted with it. Paint your Dolmancé for me, please do, that I may have him well fixed in my mind before I see him arrive; for you know my acquaintance with him is limited to an encounter the other day in a house where we were together for but a few minutes.
LE CHEVALIER — Dolmancé, my dear sister, has just turned thirty-six; he is tall, extremely handsome, eyes very alive and very intelligent, but all the same there is some suspicion of hardness, and a trace of wickedness in his features; he has the whitest teeth in the world, a shade of softness about his figure and in his attitude, doubtless owing to his habit of taking on effeminate airs so often; he is extremely elegant, has a pretty voice, many talents, and above all else an exceedingly philosophic bent to his mind.
MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE — But I trust he does not believe in God!
LE CHEVALIER — Oh, perish the thought! He is the most notorious atheist, the most immoral fellow… Oh, no; his is the most complete and thoroughgoing corruption, and he the most evil individual, the greatest scoundrel in the world.
MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE — Ah, how that warms me! Methinks that I'll be wild about this man. And what of his fancies, brother?
LE CHEVALIER — You know them full well; Sodom's delights are as dear to him in their active as in their passive form. For his pleasures, he cares for none but men; if however he sometimes deigns to employ women, it is only upon condition they be obliging enough to exchange sex with him. I've spoken of you to him; I advised him of your intentions, he agrees, and in his turn reminds you of the rules of the game. I warn you, my dear, he will refuse you altogether if you attempt to engage him to undertake anything else. "What I consent to do with your sister is," he declares, "an extravagance, an indiscretion with which one soils oneself but rarely and only by taking ample precautions."
MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE — Soil oneself!… Precautions... Oh, how I adore the language those agreeable persons use! Between ourselves, we women also have exclusive words which like these just spoken, give an idea of the profound horror they have of all those who show heretical tendencies… Tell me, my dear, has he had you? With your adorable face and your twenty years, one may, I dare say, captivate such a man?
LE CHEVALIER — We’ve committed follies together—I'll not hide them from you; you have too much wit to condemn them. The fact is, I favor women; I only give myself up to these odd whimsies when an attractive man urges me to them. And then there's nothing I stop at. I've none of that ludicrous arrogance which makes our young upstarts believe that it's by cuts with your walking stick you respond to such propositions. Is man master of his penchants? One must feel sorry for those who have strange tastes, but never insult them. Their wrong is Nature's too; they are no more responsible for having come into the world with tendencies unlike ours than are we for being born bandy-legged or well-proportioned. Is it, however, that a man acts insultingly to you when he manifests his desire to enjoy you? No, surely not; it is a compliment you are paid; why then answer with injuries and insults? Only fools can think thus; never will you hear an intelligent man discuss the question in a manner different from mine; but the trouble is, the world is peopled with poor idiots who believe it is to lack respect for them to avow one finds them fitted for one's pleasures, and who, pampered by women—themselves forever jealous of what has the look of infringing upon their rights—fancy themselves to be the Don Quixotes of those ordinary rights, and brutalize whoever does not acknowledge the entirety of their extent.
MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE — Come, my friend, kiss me. Were you to think otherwise, you'd not be my brother. A few details, I beseech you, both with what regards this man's appearance and his pleasures with you.