As far as literary bedfellows are concerned, the Marquis de Sade and Andre Breton make for an odd pair. With a gulf of 72 years separating the former’s death and the latter’s birth, they might’ve twisted a shared tongue with their work — both were French — but there was to be no bed between them. As of this afternoon, however, they share an auction block and a national accolade…
One of the world’s earliest and most sordid erotic novels — the Marquis de Sade’s “120 Days of Sodom” — is recognized as a national treasure and pulled from auction.
…And, according to the Times article, André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto was likewise designated a national treasure. Why France didn’t throw in Camus’ The Stranger for the ultimate French Lit turducken is beyond me. “Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir.” In the very least, some grad student should pen the thesis — I’m Gonna Melt Your Watch: From Sadism to Surrealism, One Hot Hand at a Time.
Factoid: Breton actually namedrops Sade in his manifesto — “Sade is Surrealist in sadism.” I’m not sure how seriously we should take this approbation — it’s followed by “Chateaubriand is Surrealist in exoticism.” (Note: Turns out Chateaubriand was a writer of exotic locales, not merely a steak as I had assumed — my bad).
All of this reminds me of three of my favorite old gags:
A) What’s the difference between a Masochist and a Sadist? The Masochist says “Hit me!” and the Sadist says “No.”
B) How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb? A fish.
And the natural synthesis of the above:
C) Monty Python’s Fish Slapping Dance:
If the Marquis de Sade and Andre Breton don’t ring your belles lettres, what does? How ’bout Baudelaire as stock art?