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Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), a rebel poet and general catalyst for the Paris avant-garde of his time, is often regarded as the spiritual forefather of Surrealism (it was he who, in fact, coined the term “surrealist” in 1917). In the early 1900s he began work at the Enfer section of the French national library, a forbidden section reserved for “banned” books, usually of a pornographic nature. Here Apollinaire became familiar with the suppressed works of writers such as Restif de la Bretonne, André Robert Andréa de Nerciat, and above all, the Marquis de Sade. In 1909 he published L’Oeuvre du Marquis de Sade, his famous monograph on Sade and his works (reprinted under the title “The Divine Marquis” in the 1964 Gallimard anthology Les Diables Amoureux). In this ground-breaking treatise, Apollinaire not only documented Sade’s literary output, but also helped to establish the writer’s revolutionary profile, calling him the “freest spirit who ever lived” and predicting his immense future influence on 20th century literature and thought. ‘The Divine Marquis” is here published in its first-ever English translation, revealing it to be a key work for all those interested in the Marquis de Sade, his writings, and his life, and also of vital interest to those studying Apollinaire and his influence on 20th century literature and literary theory.

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