OPINIONSrnDegrade and Fallrnby Christine HaynesrnAmong a people generally corrupt^ liberty cannot long exist.rn—Edmund BurkernSade: A Biographyrnhy Maurice Leverrn’Translated by Arthur GoldhammerrnNew York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux;rn626 pp., $35.00rnIwas reading Arthur Goldhammer’srntranslation of Maurice Lever’s Sadernas the Senator Packwood scandal ragedrnon, and although I wouldn’t want torndraw anv unwarranted comparisons betweenrnthe two bonhommes, the parallelsrnbetween Ancien Regime France and contemporaryrnAmerica are unmistakable.rnDebauchery reigns in the corridors ofrnpower in the United States today asrnfreely as it did in 18th-century France,rnand it is the smell of corruption, morernthan any detail about the marquis dernSade’s ignominious life, that remainsrnwith the reader of Lever’s forthright andrnspirited biography. (Goldhammer’srntranslation, while it leaves out some usefulrnnotes and appendices regarding familyrnhistories and genealogies, is lively andrnreadable.)rnSade reads like a novel. Lever employsrna “synoptic” rather than “linear”rnChristine Haynes is the assistant editorrnof Chronicles.rnmethod, which allows for a threedimensionalrnpicture of the man, and hernmixes serious analysis with sarcastic andrnironic comments that at times make hisrntalc almost farcical. Take, for instance,rnthis description of Sade’s introduction tornhis uncle’s library, which included licentiousrnworks like the abbe JacquesrnBoileau’s History of the Flagellants, inrnwhich the good and bad uses of flagellationrnamong the Christians are pointedrnout:rnBoileau dwelt at length on thernways in which flagellation couldrnexcite the senses and discoursedrnlearnedly on the grave question ofrnwhether it was better to disciplinernoneself on the back or on the buttocks.rnHe also mentions numerousrneases in which the whip stimulatedrnfuria amorosa. Pleasurernthrough suffering: there was arnprecept [Sade] would not soonrnforget.rnOr this account of Sade’s efforts to evadernthe police:rnTo avoid being recognized, he hadrndonned the cassock of… a priest.rnIn this same disguise he traveledrndown the Rhone as far as Marseilles.rnThe journey went wellrnexcept for one minor incident,rnwhich must have delightedrn[Sade]. While crossing the Durance,rnthe ferry’s rope broke andrnthe craft drifted in the current forrnsome time. Thinking that theirrnfinal hour had arrived, the passengersrnthrew themselves at the feetrnof the “cure” to make their lastrnconfession.rnDonatien Alphonse Francois de Sadern(1740-1814) descended from a long linernof Provencal nobles supposed to havernoriginated with the magus Balthasar.rnDonatien’s father, Jean-Baptiste JosephrnFrangois, comte de Sade, was an illustriousrnlibertine who left Provence to makerna name for himself at the court of LouisrnXV but eventually returned home, ostracizedrnand broke. Although he wasrnborn in Paris, the marquis was sent tornProvence at an eariy age to live with hisrnuncle, the abbe de Sade—”the very typernof libertine priest.” Returning to Paris tornattend the prestigious College Louis-le-rnGrand (where, Lever speculates, he mayrnhave encountered flagellation andrnsodomy), the marquis began a successful,rnalbeit short, military career at the agernof 14.rnUpon his discharge at the end of thernAPRIL 1994/35rnrnrn