Transferred in 1784 to the Bastille after a reassignment of the dungeon of Vincennes, Sade is then nobody more than Monsieur le 6 according to the number of his cell. His energy and his hate have not weakened and a liberation is unthinkable. He will never retrieve the freedom of Gilles de Rais or Elisabeth Bathory. He becomes a writer. He wants to be the most impure of all writers.
His first project of book is a catalog of perversions for which he is inspired by the narrative structure of the Decameron. In an abject absence of humanism, girls and boys are toys of torture and death for the sexual pleasure of the masters. The title, Les 120 Journées de Sodome, is an allusion to the 1,001 Arabian Nights.
In October 1785 the draft of the first part is finished. Despite his isolation, Sade fears a confiscation. He copies his text into a tiny and tight writing on 11.3 cm narrow sheets. The set to be kept in a tube is an assembly of 33 sheets glued end to end for a total length of 12.10 m. The top sheets of the roll are inscribed on both sides.
Sade had worked for no result. A few days before the Bastille day of July 14, 1789 he manages through the bars of his cell to add his vociferation within the growing popular discontent. His presence at the Bastille is considered as a threat to security and he is transferred to the hospice of Charenton without being allowed to take anything with him. He will never see again this manuscript of his most atrocious frenzies.
Long considered as lost, the manuscript is the subject of a first edition by a German psychiatrist in 1904. Recovered by a descendant of Sade, it is stolen in 1982 and acquired by a collector of erotic literature, legally under Swiss law and illegally according to French law. Its purchase by the Aristophil company with significant monetary compensation to all involved parties was acclaimed by the press in 2014.
This scroll unique in its theme, format, author and history is a major piece in the liquidation of Aristophil. It is estimated € 4M for sale by Aguttes in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on December 20, lot 39. Please watch the video shared by Aguttes. The image below is shared by Wikimedia.