The 120 Days of Sodom, by Marquis de Sade, is the most disgusting piece of literature that I have ever had the displeasure of reading. It is filled with the most vile sexual fantasies that not even the Urban Dictionary could accurately describe, and it’s frankly a wonder that de Sade’s mind alone was able to conjure such unholy depictions. After choosing 16 male and female young teens and tweens to bring to their secluded castle, 4 libertine friends engage in 4 months of sexual torture with increasing degrees of severity over time that ultimately ends in the murder of the children. Most of these encounters involve bodily functions and fluids, psychological torture, gore, and to top it all off, nothing in this work can be considered ethical or consensual. I did not have the chance to finish the book due to time constraints, but I must admit I would not finish this garbage if I was stuck in a library for 500 years where the shelves contained nothing but this book. While reading, I had to take several breaks due to how dreadful it made me feel.
The work could have multiple meanings behind it, and it may not be intended to be taken at face value. Some interpret the book as a metaphor for fascism, that under unchecked power, wealthy ruler(s) do not show mercy. They are iniquitous, disgusting psychopaths who pay no mind to their subjects, only using them to get what they want. It’s also a possibility that de Sade’s work is loosely based on his own experiences, which would be backed up by his scandal known as the “little girls affair,” in which several teenage servants were kidnapped and trapped in de Sade’s castle for a winter, allegedly being sexually abused during this time. I tend to subscribe to both of these theories, especially that it could be based on his own experiences, since I don’t think it’s possible for the imagination alone to think of such an immoral story.