Justine or The Misfortunes of Virtue - PDF novel - De Sade

De Sade's Justine

De Sade's Justine

Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue (French: Justine, ou Les Malheurs de la Vertu) is a 1791 novel by Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, better known as the Marquis de Sade. Justine is set just before the French Revolution in France and tells the story of a young girl who goes under the name of Thérèse. Her story is recounted to Madame de Lorsagne while defending herself for her crimes, en route to punishment and death. She explains the series of misfortunes that led to her present situation.

The ultimate triumph of philosophy would be to cast light upon the mysterious ways in which Providence moves to achieve the designs it has for man, and then to deduce therefrom some plan of conduct which would enable that two-legged wretch, forever buffeted by the whims of the Supreme Being who is said to direct his steps no less despotically, to know how to interpret what Providence decrees for him and to select a path to follow which would forestall the bizarre caprices of the Fate to which a score of different names are given but whose nature is still uncertain. 

For if taking social conventions as our starting-point and remaining faithful to the respect for them which education has bred in us, it should by mischance occur that through the perversity of others we encounter only thorns while evil persons gather nothing but roses, then will not a man, possessed of a stock of virtue insufficient to allow him to rise above the thoughts inspired by these unhappy circumstances, calculate that he would do as well to swim with the torrent as against it?

 And will he not say that when virtue, however fine a thing it be, unhappily proves too weak to resist evil, then virtue becomes the worst path he can follow, and will he not conclude that in an age that is utterly corrupt, the best policy is to do as others do? Or if you prefer, let the man have a degree of learning and allow him to abuse the knowledge he has acquired: will he not then say, like the angel Jesrad in Voltaire’s Zadig, that there is no evil from which some good does not flow? 

And will he not add of his own accord that, since in the imperfect fabric of this corrupt world of ours there is a sum of evil equal to the sum of good, the continuing equilibrium of the world requires that there be as many good people as wicked people and that it follows that in the general scheme of things it matters not if such and such a man be good or wicked; that since misfortune persecutes virtue, and prosperity is the almost invariable accompaniment of vice (a matter of complete indifference to Nature), then is it not infinitely better to side with the wicked who prosper than with the good who perish? It is therefore important to guard against the dangerous sophisms of philosophy, and essential to show that when examples of suffering virtue are thrust before a corrupt soul in which principles of goodness are not entirely extinct, then even that straying soul may be returned to goodness as surely as if the road to virtue were littered with the most glittering prizes and the most flattering rewards. 

It is of course a cruel thing to have to depict the heap of misfortunes that overwhelms the sweet, feeling woman whose respect for virtue is unmatched, and on the other hand to portray the sparkling good fortune of her sister who scorned virtue all her life. And yet if some good should come from our sketching of these two pictures, shall we take ourselves to task for laying them before the public? Shall we feel remorse for establishing an exact account which will enable the wise man, who reads with profit and draws the ineffable lesson of submission to the will of Providence, to answer part of his secret stock of unanswered questions and heed the fatal warning that it is often to redirect our steps to the path of duty that Heaven strikes those next to us who best appear to have discharged theirs? Such are the sentiments which led us to take up our pen, and it is in deference to their unimpeachable sincerity that we ask of our readers a modicum of attention and sympathy for the misfortunes of unhappy, wretched Justine.

 book details :
  • Author: De Sade'
  • Publication date: 1791
  • Warning This is suitable for over 18 years old 

  • Download  Justine - PDF ebook

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