The Marquis de Sade, in addition to the abundantly raw language of his work, enlightens us on an aspect of love.
Here, the Marquis de Sade, through Dolmancé, attempts to define love.
He establishes the cause (desire) and the consequence (madness).
For Dolmancé, all love can be overcome by healthy reflection. Because love seizes us in a lightning way, it “ignites” us.
Dolmancé answering Eugénie:
You speak to me of the bonds of love, Eugénie; may you never know them! Ah, may such a feeling, for the happiness I wish you, never approach your heart! What is love? It can only be considered, it seems to me, as the resultant effect of the qualities of a beautiful object on us; these effects transport us; they inflame us; if we possess this object, we are happy; if it is impossible for us to have it, we despair. But what is the basis of this feeling?… Desire. What are the consequences of this feeling?… Madness. Let us stick to the motive, and let us guarantee the effects. The motive is to possess the object: well! let us try to succeed, but with wisdom; let us enjoy it as soon as we have it; let us console ourselves in the opposite case: a thousand other similar objects, and often much better, will console us for the loss of this one; all men, all women are alike: there is no love which resists the effects of a healthy reflection. Oh! what a deception this intoxication is, which, absorbing in us the result of the senses, puts us in such a state that we do not see anymore, that we exist only by this object madly adored!
Sade – Philosophy in the boudoir