Sade the Humanist and Freethinker
Sade was no angel, and he certainly had his faults like anyone else, but he was not a monster. The picture that emerges… is that of a kind, courteous, and considerate person… who supported a number of orphans at his own expense… a man who was the first European thinker to express opposition to capital punishment, and who incredibly almost lost his own life by helping his worst enemy to escape the guillotine, his vindictive and powerful mother-in-law [who]… kept him in prison for over twenty years.
To a man in the prime of life and with a powerful sexual appetite, these long years of confinementl… must have been an endless torture. Yet despite his sufferings… he was able to produce… the amazing body of literature of which one quarter has come down to us… [and] the general release of prisoners which occurred when the French Revolution broke out… Sade saved more lives in his work as a magistrate… than are lost in his various fictions.