The New Justine (de Sade novel)

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The New Justine, or The Misfortunes Of Virtue (Justine, ou Les Malheurs de La Vertue) by the marquis de Sade is the third version of the novel Justine, published during summer 1799 and which was followed by Juliette (Juliette ou les Prospérités du vice.) at the beginning of 1800. The first edition of the novel was made of ten volumes illustrated by a hundred obscene engravings, which was, at the time « the largest clandestine pornographic bookstore business ever seen in the world » according to Jean-Jacques Pauvert. This led to considerable speculation in the bookshops, given the succes of the 1791 version, and led to the author's arrest without charge or trial under the Consulate, followed by a life imprisonnement in the asylum of Charenton.

Illustration from a Dutch edition.

The three versions of Justine.[edit]

We have to rememeber that three versions of the story of Justine exist, reunited for the first time in the second volume of de Sade's works published in the Pléiade in 1995 :

  • The Misfortunes Of Virtue (Les Infortunes de la vertu)(1787): The primitive version written at the Bastille was a philosophical tale aimed to be a part of the collection Tales and Fables of the 18th Century (Contes et Fabliaux du XVIIIe siècle) that de Sade was writing. « Because of the progressive development of the heroine's adventures, which imposed continual increases to the primitive text », writes Maurice Heine, « Sade decided to consider his work as a novel. ». The Misfortunes Of Virtue were published for the first time in 1930 by the care of Maurice Heine.
  • Justine, or The Misfortunes Of Virtue (published in 1791).
  • The New Justine, or The Misfortunes Of Virtue, followed by Juliette (L'Histoire de Juliette sa sœur, published in 1797).

These versions are differentiated by :

  • amplification: From the first to the last version, De Sade keeps mutltiplying Justine's woes –and to explain the erotic scenes -as he never stops prolonging and hardening ideological dissertations : the first version has 118 pages in the edition of the Pléiade, the second 259 pages and the third 705 pages (not counting Juliette's story which occupies 1080 pages.). The amplification also passes through the illustrations: an allegorical frontispiece in Justine, or The Misfortunes Of Virtue, forty obscene engravings in the New Justine.
  • the vocabulary : Retained in the first two versions (use of periphrases, allusions), it is openly obscene in the second version, the New Justine.
  • narration: Justine is the narrator of his woes in the first two versions. The vocabulary of the young girl and her morals retiscences limitate the evocation of the passions of which she is the victim. She loses her speech in The New Justine, the story becomes objective, there is no narrative necessity to restrict descriptions of violence and orgy.

The New Justine or the Misfortune of Virtue (1799)[edit]

The original edition[edit]

The New Justine was printed in Paris in 1799 – without both names of the author and the editor, with the misleading date of 1797 and the fake adresse "in Netherlands". The "Editor's Notice" precises :

"The original manuscript of a work which, all truncated, all disfigured that it was, had nevertheless obtained several editions, entirely out of print today, we hasten to give it to the public as it was conceived by its author, who wrote it in 1788. An unfaithful friend [...] made an extract of it which appeared under the simple title of Justine ou les Malheurs de la Vertu, a miserable extract far below the original, and which was constantly disavowed by the one whose energetic pencil drew the Justine and her sister whom we shall see here."

"We do not hesitate to offer them as the genius of this forever famous writer gave birth to them, if only because of this work [...]."

The Bibliothèque nationale (National Library of France) acquired a copy of the original ten-volume edition (Trésors de l'écrit. 10 ans d'enrichissement du patrimoine écrit, Réunions des musées nationaux, 1991, p. 110).

The novel[edit]

A summary of the 1791 version was given in Justine, or The Misfortune Of Virtue. The passage to the version of 1791 to the 1799 one was partialy constitued by a hundred and eleven notes, revelated by Maurice Heine and publsished for the first time in 1933 dans the magazine Surrealism at the service of revolution (Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution.) These notes indicate the project of an amplification of the adventures, the characters, and of « dissertations philosophiques » (often taken to the philosophers of the Lumières : The Saint-Marie-des-Bois convent, for example, offers us not four, but six monks at the head of a seraglio that includes no less than eighteen boys and thirty girls. New characters are created : the Delmonse and his accomplice Dubourg, M. et Mme d'Esterval, tenants of a red Inn, M. de Bandole, Roger his beggars. The lengthening of the story is also accentuated by two enchanted stories, those of a monk, Jerome, and of a woman Seraphine.

The bookstore operation.[edit]

It went back to Jean-Jacques Pauvert, the first editor who published the entire work of Sade to attract the attention, in his biography Sade alive ([./Https:// Sade vivan]t, T. III, p. 299), in the bookstore operation which consisted to publish in 1799 and 1800 the ten volumes (almost 3600 pages) of The New Justine, frollowed by the Story of Juliette his sister illustrated by 101 licentious engraving, "the world's largest clandestine porn bookstore. Even today, in 1990, we still don't know of any examples approaching". He says  :

" The company will have mobilized the best known booksellers, printers, bookbinders, engravers in the Paris region specialized at the time in the clandestine obscene book. It is necessary to add the sponsors, their presence is certain. Even as a group, printers and authors would not have been able to pay the price of such a gigantic operation at the time, without help.. "

It is a question of putting on sale several thousand copies of a collection proposed to the public 100 francs in 1801, that is to say a total turnover of several hundreds of thousands of francs, according to the edition, at a time when "a worker considered as well paid earned 600 francs a year, and lived correctly". The police seizures will further increase the prices: according to Louis-Marie de Sade, one of the sons of the Marquis, in 1807, the ten volumes sold for 300 francs!


Colnet du Ravel, librarian and journalist, publishes in his newspaper The Literary Review of Year VII (La Revue littéraire de l’an VII) the following information that turns out to be an advertising denunciation :

" If you have read Justine, you probably believe that the most depraved heart, the most degraded mind, the most bizarrely obscene imagination can invent nothing that offends reason, modesty and humanity so much; think again, this masterpiece of corruption has just been surpassed, or rather the author has just surpassed himself, by updating The New Justine, even more detestable than the first one. I know this infamous author, but his name will not sully my pen; I also know the bookseller who has taken on the task of selling this disgusting production; may he blush to associate himself with the shame that surrounds a scoundrel, whose name recalls the most hideous crimes. "

Denunciations – non-advertising this time - are multiplying as soon as the book is published. Like for the Justine of 1791, De Sade fiercely disawows paternity. On November 9th 1799, the Consulate replaces the Directory. The police forces Fouché attack the pornography market and will prove, there as elsewhere, its formidable efficiency. A first seizure took place in August 1800.

On March 6th, 1801, Sade was arrested at the home of his printer Nicolas Massé. The minutes of the search mention "volumes of The New Justine with additions and corrections handwritten by Sade's hand". Did he bring to his printer a new version of this work that was constantly being rewritten?


  On other Wikimedia projects :

Other sources, in french :

  • Pascal Ract-Madoux, L’Édition originale de la Nouvelle Justine et Juliette, Bulletin du bibliophile, 1992, I
  • Maurice Heine, Le Marquis de Sade, Paris, Ed. Lilac, 1950
  • Gilbert Lely, Vie du marquis de Sade, Paris, Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1952-1957
  • Jean-Jacques Pauvert, Sade vivant, Paris, Robert Laffont
    • t.I  : "Une innocence sauvage 1740-1777", 1986
    • t.II  : "Tout ce qu'on peut concevoir dans ce genre-là… 1777-1793", 1989
    • t.III : "Cet écrivain à jamais célèbre… 1794-1814", 1990
  • Sade, Œuvres, t. II, édition établie par Michel Delon, Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1995

External links[edit]

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