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Morbid UndercurrentsMedical Subcultures in Postrevolutionary France$
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Sean M. Quinlan

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501758331

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501758331.001.0001

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Medicine in the Boudoir

Medicine in the Boudoir

The Marquis de Sade and Medical Understanding ­after the Reign of Terror

(p.43) Chapter 2 Medicine in the Boudoir
Morbid Undercurrents

Sean M. Quinlan

Cornell University Press

This chapter begins with discussing the Marquis de Sade's La Philosophie dans le boudoir. It argues that Sade used medicine for specific political and ideological reasons rooted in the revolutionary experience. While drawing upon several of Sade's pornographic works, the chapter focuses primarily upon his La Philosophie dans le boudoir. La Philosophie dans le boudoir belonged to his corpus of “clandestine” or pornographic works. Within the book, Sade expressed his moral, philosophical, and even political opinions with a clarity and conciseness rarely encountered in his other writings. The chapter then examines how the La Philosophie dans le boudoir helped usher in a new world of medical writing and subcultures following the Reign of Terror, connecting medicine and culture in the post-revolutionary moment. The chapter analyses how he took medical ideas about individual health and hygiene and used them to defend libertinism, as a form of philosophic freethinking and sexual free-living, in a project that bordered upon a medical apologia.

Keywords:   Marquis de Sade, La Philosophie dans le boudoir, medicine, pornographic works, medical writing, Reign of Terror, libertinism, health, hygiene, freethinking

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