Yukio Mishima—celebrated & controversial; a poet, novelist, film director, and right-wing nationalist who committed ritual suicide after a failed coup attempt—was one of Japan’s most important post-war artists (and thrice nominated for a Nobel Prize). His play, Madame de Sade, examines the Marquis de Sade—the man, his proclivities, and the myth he became, through the eyes of his wife, her family, and her society. The play’s examination of the sacred and the profane, the illicit and the legal, the sinful and the debauched, emerges from the single question: why did de Sade’s wife stick by him through imprisonment and controversy, and only abandon him at the moment when he finally regained his freedom?
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