Four writers—the first, an eighteenth-century Frenchman whose works still retain their power to shock, scandalize, and instruct; the others, three twentieth-century Frenchmen, heirs and explicators of their earlier compatriot—form the central cast of characters of this literary-philosophical dialogue which seeks to transcend the barriers of time, space, and sexual identity imposed by traditional approaches to literature.Professor Gallop, acknowledging her debt to such writers as Friedrich Nietzsche and Roland Barthes, cites as the shaping principle of her work the central tenet of intertextuality—that a literary work is not a closed system which can be definitively characterized by reference either to its creator or to its beholder. Rather, reader, writer, and text meet, react, and interact in a performance of "polymorphous per-versity"—a performance which, Professor Gallop points out, finds a parodic analogue in the activities of Sade's distinguished libertines. Professor Gallop observes that Sade and the structuralists display a congruity of purpose, in that both take as their goal the destruction of the classical dichotomy, long enshrined at the heart of the humanist tradition, between the ideal and the material.Working from these peculiar conjunctions of theory, purpose, and enactment—and from a distinctly feminist point of view—Professor Gallop moves freely among the texts of her four subjects. She introduces Bataille's Sade to Blanchot’s Sade, relates Klossowski's Sade to Klossowski's Bataille, and, when necessary extricates Sade himself from the web of what has been written about him. She finds that each of the three later writers constructs his own "fiction," with Sade as chief character: Bataille, caught up in the idea of the "sovereign man," discovers the sovereign man in Sade; Blanchot, for whom the real action is the act of writing itself, describes a Sade confronting the horror of the loss of self in that act; while Klossowski creates several Sades, marking different moments in his intellectual itinerary: psychoanalytic, Catholic, Nietzschean.Professor Gallop demonstrates, however, that Sade is ultimately not appropriable—cannot, in effect, be consumed—and that, thus, an inversion occurs whereby Bataille, Blanchot, and Klossowski become extensions of Sade's characters, subsumed into the Sadian world. And she finds herself likewise a part of that world and her work "an ever reverberating extension of Sade's own writing."
Literature-Fiction, History-Criticism, Criticism-Theory,