Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Misfortunes of Virtue
A different version, entitled Justine ou Les Malheurs de la vertu was published in 1791, and a final modified version La Nouvelle Justine ou Les Malheurs de la vertu published in 1797 was accompanied by the novel Juliette about Justine's sister.
The plot concerns Justine, a young maiden who sets off, impecunious, to make her way in France. At every turn she is presented with vice and abuse, hidden under a virtuous mask that lures her. For example, she seeks refuge and confession in a monastery, but is forced to become a sex-slave to the monks, who subject her to countless orgies, rapes and other abuses.
These are, of course, described in true Sadean form. However, unlike some of his other works, the novel is not just a catalogue of sadism. Rather it purports to show, albeit in a hideously extreme way, how those who live a life of vice prosper, whilst the virtuous suffer. Nonetheless, Sade invites us to live virtuously in hope of heavenly reward.
A quotation from the last paragraph of the book:
May you...be persuaded that true happiness lies in virtue alone and that, though God allows goodness to be persecuted on earth, it is with no other end than to prepare us for a better reward in heaven.
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