Journey to Italy
University of Toronto Press, May 6, 2020 - 832 pages
In 1775, the young Count de Sade decided to turn a flight from legal trouble into an opportunity to undertake the "grand tour." He transformed his sojourns in Florence, Rome, Naples, and their environs into a philosophical travelogue; alongside advice on where to go and what to see, his Journey to Italy would include analyses of local customs and institutions, history and politics, natural phenomena, and the development of the arts.
For today's readers, Journey to Italy provides remarkable portraits of major Italian cities and the surrounding countryside, vivid accounts of aristocratic and popular entertainments, and a clear sense of what it was like to be a tourist in eighteenth-century Italy - from scams, rough roads, and unreliable guidebooks to learned interlocutors, balls, and nights at the opera. We witness Sade learning about the lives of Roman emperors, the machinations and misdeeds of pontiffs, the power struggles of the Medici, the ancient libertine world revealed by the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and a host of artistic examples and cultural practices - the material he would soon metamorphose into trenchant satire, gothic horror, and violent sexual fantasy.
This book presents the first English translation of Sade's unfinished and unpolished Journey to Italy along with his extensive dossiers of notations, sketches, plans, and correspondence. The translation is accompanied by extensive explanatory annotations and preceded by a critical introduction that provides biographical, artistic, historical, and intellectual context for Sade's fascinating project, connecting his travels in and writings about Italy to his later famous and controversial works.