Justine tells the story of a beautiful and devout young woman, The Countess de Lorsange, who reveals her story, in a tavern, to a young woman named Therese. Her steadfast faith and naive trust have predestined her for sexual exploitation and martyrdom. Indeed, the unending catalog of disasters that befall her, during which she is subject to any number of perverse practices, illustrate Sade's belief in the primacy of Nature over civilization. Indeed, the novel mounts a ferocious physical and intellectual assault on absolute notions of good and evil.
Justine was the Marquis de Sade's first novella, written in 1787, while imprisoned for two weeks in the Bastille. Although published anonymously, de Sade was eventually indicted for blasphemy and obscenity (without trial) at the behest of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Marquis de Sade was a French aristocrat, revolutionary and writer of violent pornography. Incarcerated for 32 years of his life (in prisons and asylums), the majority of his output was written from behind bars. Famed for his graphic depiction of cruelty within classic titles such as ‘Crimes of Love’ and ‘One Hundred Days of Sodom’, de Sade's name was adopted as a clinical term for the sexual fetish known as ‘sadism’.