Fact and Fiction

At age sixteen I was first confronted with the works of D.A.F. de Sade, better known as Marquis de Sade. I guess my early interest in Sade’s works was a form of protest against the kind of literature my teachers wanted me to read such as the works of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Fran├žoise Sagan.

Apart from studying my native language Dutch I was also taught English, French, German, Latin and Old Greek. Even at that age I specifically disliked Dutch literature.

Unlike Anglo-Saxon literature where the main character in a novel is often a self-reflecting antihero, Dutch writers like to claim center stage in their works as superior beings, know-it-alls, teachers or vicars if you please. But most of all their Calvinism shines through in everything they write and I do detest Calvinism with its depressing morality.

So reading Sade definitely was a kick in the groin of my teachers who had high expectations of me since I seemed to do well in both language and mathematics.

The school I studied at was participating in an experiment. Students who were good at math and literature were offered a chance to follow philosophy classes. Interested as I was in philosophy, I signed up.

That was one of the best decisions I ever made. My philosophy teacher, born and raised a Calvinist was also an existentialist, a pedophile and an absolute moralist when it came to the ideas and writings of D.A.F. de Sade.

So, the anti-authoritarian in me had a ball challenging his views on life and society.

To top it all off my new philosophy teacher seemed to be convinced that all of Sade’s writings were based on facts instead of fiction. I disagreed with him then and I disagree with him now.