Synopses & Reviews
Following the twin trails of desire and depravity to a shocking, sadistic paradise—a garden in China where torture is practiced as an art form—a dissolute Frenchman discovers the true depths of degradation beyond his prior bourgeois imaginings. Entranced by a resolute Englishwoman whose capacity for debauchery knows no bounds, he capitulates to her every whim amid an ecstatic yet tormenting incursion of visions, scents, caresses, pleasures, horrors, and fantastic atrocities.
The Torture Garden is exceptional for its detailed descriptions of sexual euphoria and exquisite torture, its political critique of government corruption and bureaucracy, and its revolutionary portrait of a woman, which challenges even contemporary models of feminine authority.
This is one of the most truly original works ever imagined. Beyond providing a richly poetic experience, it will stimulate anyone interested in the always-contemporary problem of the limits of experience and sensation. As part of the continuing struggle against censorship—and especially self-censorship— The Torture Garden will remain a landmark in the fight against all that would suppress the creation of a far freer world. Written in 1899, this fabulously rare novel was once described as the most sickening work of art of the 19th century.
Written at a time when all authoritarian "laws" of aesthetics and morality were being challenged (and breached) by anarchists, Decadents, Naturalists, Impressionists, and pre-Surrealists, The Torture Garden
appended its vision of terminal outrage to the final year of the nineteenth century.
The author, Octave Mirbeau (1850-1917) was an exceptional writer who combined intensity of vision with a lifelong commitment to attacking arbitrary, unjust authority. As a journalist Mirbeau railed against conservative art and political opinions as well as hypocritical public figures which caused him to fight numerous duels. Till the end of his long career as a critic, novelist, and playwright he was dedicated to permanent, sardonic, and vociferous rebellion against the status quo. He and his wife, a former actress and herself a luminary of wit and independence, held host to some of the most radical artists and writers of the day. After his death she made their estate a retreat and haven for indignant writers, artists, poets and sculptors possessing dreams and visions but little else.
A classic work of erotic fiction.