Both Swift and Sade created works with tenacious wills to survive. Their legacies now seem to cast them as more beast than ghost at first. Subsequent artists have tried to leash the anger of Swift or the depravity of Sade, taming them for their own transgressive ends. But in truth they are more like warnings. Swift’s and Sade’s literature was neither the literature of majestic vision nor of pure shock. They are not examples of a certain method of execution but of conditions that made other methods impossible. In considering the heirs of this kind of art, we move away from the provocative fantasies of Salò or Naked Lunch and toward the nightmare reportage of Elem Klimov’s film Come and See and Curzio Malaparte’s novel Kaputt. The result is a double-edged critique of humanism, which dredges the enduring capacity for cruelty out from beneath an enlightened, noble surface and shows the mind not as a parent to an idea but under the dictatorship of an idea.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor