Given the debate here in New Zealand about Dotcom’s ownership of a signed copy of Mein Kampf, I was amused to read in the NZ Herald this morning that the original handwritten scroll upon which the Marquis de Sade penned his novel The 120 Days of Sodom has been returned to France:
A private collector bought the well-preserved scroll, considered a national treasure despite its perverse and pornographic content, for €7 million ($11.2 million).
Sure, it’s not the turgid ravings of history’s most infamous war criminal, but even the Marquis de Sade described The 120 Days of Sodom as “the most impure tale that has ever been told since our world began”. It would be difficult to find a rival in that regard, given that, as the Herald puts it:
It recounts the story of four wealthy male libertines who lock themselves in a secluded French castle with 46 victims, including girls and boys as young as 12.
It catalogues 600 types of perversion from orgies to humiliation, torture, rape, bestiality and murder, leading French writer Jean Paulhan to pronounce it “the Gospel of Evil”.
Now, I’m not making any comparisons of literary quality here, nor indeed of the respective cultural value of each piece of literature. I can’t say I’ve read The 120 Days of Sodom (although I meant to track down a copy after watching Geoffrey Rush’s amazing portrayal of the Marquis in Quills), just as I haven’t read Mein Kampf (tried to start it once and found it utterly unreadable). Aficionados of erotic literature may tell me I am comparing apples to oranges…
It is though somewhat amusing to note the difference between Dotcom being labelled a Nazi sympathiser and anti-Semite for owning a signed copy of Mein Kampf, while the French consider the Marquis de Sade’s original of The 120 Days of Sodom to be a national treasure…