Against a magnificent backdrop of 18th century France, Neil Schaeffer reconstructs the almost incredible adventures of Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade, whose scandalous sexual exploits led to a fourteen-year imprisonment without trial. Freed by the Revolution, the Marquis became a radical leader himself and then narrowly escaped the guillotine. But with the publication of his novels, which were denounced as lewd and blasphemous, he was again imprisoned. Under Napoleon, Sade spent almost twelve years in an insane asylum before dying at the age of seventy-four in the arms of his teenage mistress. Schaeffer reveals the astonishingly non-sadistic Sade: his capacity for deep romantic love, his inexhaustible charm, his delusional paranoia. And through a dazzling reading of Sade's novels, including the notorious masterpiece 120 Days of Sodom, he argues powerfully for Sade as one of the great literary imaginations of the 18th century.