Markisinnan de Sade

Teatro Festival ’91

Tatsushiko Shibusawa’s biography of the Marquis de Sade led Yukio Mishima to a historical character with apparently unfathomable motives. Renée de Montreuil, de Sade’s wife and faithful long-distance companion during his lengthy imprisonment, refused to see him when he was released and sent back home. In the eighteen years he was gone, the French Revolution had taken place, and she had withdrawn to a convent. Why? Biographers, historians, and scholars have viewed this final act with either incredulous silence or inconsistent suppositions.

Provoked by this anomalous and historically marginal female character, in whom matters of the heart and of the mind seemed intimately connected, Mishima, a great admirer of Racine’s plays, as well as of the No theater, constructed an explosive drama with only female roles. It is a drama designed around an absence. De Sade, the absolute protagonist of the

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.