Once upon a time, I wanted to be an ‘intellectual.’ I imagined myself with a Franz Liszt haircut, clothed in jeans, ankle boots, turtlenecks and tight sports jackets. Apart from my intellectual appearance, I knew I’d need at least one doctoral degree, and I realized I’d have to digest every “worthy” book written. So, one summer, I decided to read the complete works of the Marquis de Sade. I started my project by reading two biographies of the marquis, and then I turned my attention to many critical essays and assessments of his writings.
After reading Sade’s critics and biographers, I was expecting to be shocked, astounded, thrilled and “enlightened” by his literary output. Instead, Sade’s stories of torture, his endless diatribes against religion, his sexual fantasies involving pain, incest, degradation, humiliation and murder numbed me. Reading the Marquis de Sade’s dully written, repetitive tales made me sleepy and after awhile I began to laugh heartily at the absurdity of him and what he “preached.” His philosophy didn’t appeal to (or interest) me. I was definitely not Sade’s audience (and, I thought, perhaps not “intellectual material” after all).
The Marquis de Sade spent almost 30 years of his life in one prison or another and he denied authorship of many of his most famous books. The chorus of his literary defenders is large, and famous, and they almost always gloss over the troublesome personal life of the man whose works they laud.
My immersion in the marquis’ life and work left with me a few lingering memories: while in prison, he kept a record of all his solo "pleasurable activities" — if you know what I mean (daily, weekly, monthly and yearly totals), and he sent his wife (who was dumb enough to do his bidding) to the glassblowers to have his "tools" made (they had to be at least 9 inches in circumference to please him).1
Histoires de Parfums has chosen the Marquis de Sade and his year of birth as inspirations for their 1740 fragrance: Birth year of a Parisian gentleman, named Donatien-Alphonse-François, that posterity will remember as the Marquis de Sade. For this man, whose licentious morals had him imprisoned many times, luxury rhymes with literature. The libertine writer would undoubtedly have enjoyed the audacity of this spiced wooded scent, an invitation to pleasure with its bergamot and Davana Sensualis hints, rounded with patchouli and everlasting flower.2
I’m still trying to figure out “luxury rhymes with literature,” but 1740 lists notes of bergamot, davana sensualis, patchouli, coriander, cardamom, cedar, elemi, leather, labdanum, and coumarin. 1740 starts off smelling like a medicinal elixir you do NOT want to drink (but enjoy smelling): bergamot, coriander, a ‘rosewater’ note and menthol-geranium produce a sickly sweet-spooky aroma. As the medicine disappears, vanilla-coumarin notes become apparent. The last phase of 1740’s development moves away from “medicine” and “flavors” into the realm of leather, orange peels, cedar and powdery patchouli-musk (the aromas of an antique trunk or armoire). 1740 has good lasting power and sillage; it’s a lovely, gentlemanly perfume.
I’m afraid the creators of 1740 didn’t have the balls to create a fragrance that would epitomize the Marquis de Sade; such a scent begs for filthy musks and cumin, the aromas of dirty hair and scalp (costus roots, anyone?), ink, beeswax (all those candles to illuminate the writing table and to burn skin) and indoles galore (nibbling on merde was apparently one of Sade’s pleasurable activities).
In case you care, I never became a bona fide intellectual (though I achieved “the look,” especially the Liszt hairstyle); I preferred reading the same beloved writers over and over to spending time with minds and ideas that left me unmoved or bored.
Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade Eau de Parfum is $185 for 120 ml; for buying information see the listing for Histoires de Parfums under Perfume Houses.
1. The Marquis de Sade: A Life, by Neil Schaeffer, pps. 292-296.
2. Via the Histoires de Parfums website.
Note: top images are Marquis de Sade (center) and rose thorns (altered, right); lower image is Justine. All are via Wikimedia Commons.
“Marquis de Sade” is an odd name for this fragrance. Personally, I think the notes in Secretions Magnifiques make a much more appropriate fragrance to be dedicated to the Marquis. 1740 MdeS is delicious though; to me, it smells like stewed dark fruits with lots of spice, and maybe some rum or brandy added in. It’s a perfect winter/holiday perfume. When I wear it, I feel like I’m basking in the warmth of a fireplace, cradling a cup of mulled wine.
OMG fleurdelys you beat me to the punch! We must have been typing the same thing at the same time. Great minds think alike right? Too funny.
Fleurdelys: agreed that S.M. would make a better name and mix of ingredients.
Kevin, do you think the Marquis’s righteous fragrance should be ELd’O Secretions Magnifique? Patty at PP just blogged about the olfactory debasedness of that particular scent today as a matter of fact! I think it would be more fitting.
Did you ever see the movie Quills? I found it quite entertaining, much more so than anything I ever read by Marquis de Sade. Geoffrey Rush made a wonderful Marquis.
Damn it, not Patty… it was March! March March March! I’m sorry March… such a hilarious post and I didn’t even give you proper credit. I’m just a mess today. There are only seven comments to this post so far and four of them are mine… SIGH. At least “hump day” (a phrase I deplore) is almost over.
K-Scott: didn’t see the movie but saw the play and enjoyed it.
Also Kevin, or any one else in the know, are there any others by Histoires that you would recommend? I’ve been wanting to try a couple of their scents but this one doesn’t appeal to me too much. Was thinking bout maybe George Sand (though pineapple throws me off a bit), 1969, or Eugenie de Montijo. Recommendations?
I think it’s fairly easy to get samples. I just tested a vial of Eugenie de Montijo last night and it’s kind of a tropical fruity thing. None so far have really floated my boat, but I haven’t tried 1740 yet (I don’t think… I lose track!). I’ve tried the Patchouli and the Colette as well. I’d send you the Eugenie if you like: joe805 on MUA. I may have one or two others lying about.
Ooooh thanks Joe, I will probably take you up on that!
1969 is interesting and I like their amber one. Most of the others are sort of too typical for me – okay but not exciting. Poivoine is a decent green. 1740 is my fave of the lot.
K-S: the ones that I like are the Ambre. 1725 and 1828
I sample all of the year scents, I think, and liked 1969 well enough to get a large decant. It filled a gap in my collection for a lush, beautiful feminine.
I spend all my deep thinking on fragrances these days and dream of the Michael Edwards encyclopedia…. If I could get a PhD in fragrances I would! It seems like the use of Sade for the name of this fragrance has a bit of hyperbole – you too can be a naughty-sexy social outcast if you smell like this! It seems like a big reach to be waay out there more for marketing than anything. I imagine the first date with said gentleman in this eau de Marquis:
“Oh, you smell so good! What is that?”
“Just my new Marquis de Sade fragrance, ma chere/mon cher…”
“Should we come up with our safe word over appetizers?”
AnnS: I just say 1740…and that’s what’s on the bottle…the names of the famous are little “add-ons”
Brilliant! You do make me laugh, Ann. And I think I’d like my safe word to be “oudh”.
Giggles… a bit close to “ouch” don’t ya think?
That’s very funny!!
Love the article, and the comments ; )
I’m not sure how Marquis de Sade is supposed to be represented in the notes listed, as I think of the guy more as a filthy bastard than a Parisian gentleman… luxury? Really?
That said, I think I might like to try Kevin’s version of the fragrance!
Danielle: now that I think about it, maybe “my” version would be better in a CANDLE than for personal use! HA!
(I am aghast… nine inches in CIRCUMFERENCE?!?!? What did he plan to – no. No. I don’t want to know.)
Ahem. I was very pleased to read a sober review of 1740, since several of LT’s rave-reviewed fragrances have been tremendous disappointments for me. Glad to hear that 1740 is so pleasant. I have been less than impressed with the few HdPs I’ve tried (1804, 1873, and all three of the Couleurs series – Blanc Violette, Noir Patchouli, and Vert Pivoine). Was expecting to love Vert Pivoine, at the very least, but it left me cold.
I can picture you in the ankle boots, Kevin…
mals: I was itching to get in on that Vert Pivoine split unsniffed recently; from the sound of things, it’s not all that.
I got a sample of the Vert Pivoine almost a year ago, and almost ordered a FB before the sample arrived because a) there was a big sale going on, and b) so many folks were so happy with it. I’ve got to say, I can’t remember specifics, just the general sense that it was nice, but not worth more than the same kind of thing from, say, Yves Rocher.
turned to pencil shavings on me….I might still have a sample somewhere…will look.
Circumference is much preferable to DIAMETER!!
and she probably acquiesced to his shopping demands because he was at least leaving her alone! Figured it was safer all around to just let him play by himself. (yikes!)
Mals86: I was amused that a glassblower had such a line of business…
I believe at that time implements of that persuasion were generally made of glass or ivory.
This comment sub-thread is cracking me up. I never, EVER thought about it but now I wonder if there are secret lists that come up for bid at high-end antiques auctions: “And who will start the bidding on this rare 18th Century French ivory ‘objet d’art’…?”
You just know there is SOMEONE out there with an extensive collection of such things. Like Marilyn Manson…
Kevin: This sounds interesting. When you say ‘gentlemanly’, would you say it’s like a classic fougère?
I wondered if that “Quills” movie was worth watching, I may check it out. I raised my eyebrows a couple of times reading this review… I suppose he may have been filthy or crazy or both, but perhaps he was just more open about it than most (see any political *escandalo* du jour these days). Kevin, do you find Genet as boring as Sade? I agree that the seemingly outrageous can often seem simply boring. It doesn’t sound like this scent does “justice” to the alleged inspiration.
Quills, with Geoffrey Rush. One of my favorite movies, albeit one that is intense, outrageous, violent, funny and very sad. Be warned: not for the faint of heart or head. Rush is astonishing. I came away feeling not entirely antagonistic toward the Marquis…but it IS a movie…
1740 sounds pretty interesting. I may have to try it some time.
I agree, Quills is worth watching. I found myself amazed at how moved I was by the necrophiliac scene in the church, on the altar, it was actually intensely romantic. Never thought THAT could be pulled off…
Joe: how’s this for ANTI-intellecutalism…every person I’ve known who loves Genet I have hated with a passion…so only read one work of his, forced to, in college! HA! (And this fragrance doesn’t go fully into fougere territory.)
Funny, I’m reading a biography of Aleister Crowley and finding him to be a total bore, too. What is it about these guys who try so hard to be outrageous?
I actually like the bit of Genet I’ve read (which was when I was quite young, so it had an indelible impression). “Funeral Rites” is an amazingly evocative yet repulsive meditation on wartime France.
Sniffed it, tested it…not bad, not great….made no connection at all to the revolting namesake. (ok–he was disgusting enough before I read about the taste-testing preferences—now he’s revolting AND vile) I can only assume that either Histoires des Parfumes watched the Donald Sutherland movie and found the film characterization titillating or they knew a more accurate history named it such to shock our socks off. Either way, I think they could have done a little better.
Donald Sutherland played Casanova, in the 1976 movie of the same name directed by Frederico Fellini. To the best of my knowledge, Sutherland has not starred as the Marquis…?
oh duh! yes, of course—Casanova —you are right. See what happens when you spend the majority of a film with one eye squinted closed and scrunched down in your seat??? ( you get your sexual deviants mixed up) Oddly enough I continued to date the guy who took me to see it for the entire remainder of the school year…I guess once you’ve been that embarrassed with someone it gives you more in common ….
And here is the Marquis de Sade,
Whose writing is awfully baa-d,
But we can thank heaven,
That we can read Kevin,
Whose hair is just like what Liszt had.
Wow, Kevin, you certainly could stomach more of Sade’s “literature” than I could. I couldn’t even finish his “Justine”. Maybe if I had done more background research as you did…mmm, no that would never have happened. lol Anyway, what I do know (from the film “Quills”), this frag sounds bizarre to be a tribute to him. If you absolutely need to name this fragrance after a notorious historical European why not 1673 (?) John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester? Anyone one see “The Libertine” with Johnny Depp? This fragrance sounds much closer to that rowdy, debauched poet. A very disturbing film, btw, but I discovered there’s something I like about it as I’ve re-watched it several times since.
Lamaroc: and you know “The Libertine” played DOWN Rochester! Perhaps Johnny would only go SO FAR in his portrayal?
Yeah, hard to guess what Johnny Depp is not willing to do. He’s one of the bravest actors out there. One his roles where the celebrity completely disappeared for me. Hmmm, I don’t think I’ll be doing any further research on Rochester, either! :O
This is my fave of the bunch of Histoires I’ve tried, and I tried hard to like the old formulations that went on sale but couldn’t quite get there. I have a decant of this, which will suit me just fine for a long time. I wear it infrequently, but do like it. I don;t feel too masculine in it, though, just kind of rough around the edges.
Tama: agree…a woman can wear it certainly, but it does have an overall masculine vibe (to me anyway)
Kevin – would you say > < or = masculine as Chergui? My friend's tell me I smell like a really hot guy when I wear it lol but I still don't feel it's too masculine for me. I've read your review a few times now and I'm thinking this deserves at least a decant.
La Maroc: maybe a TOUCH more masculine than Chergui? But that’s just my opinion.
Tried a sample of this one and am still not sure if it’s right for me or not. Maybe the leather was too much ( I am normally a vanilla, gourmand scent person but am trying to branch out!). It was intriguing though and I did find myself constantly resniffing my wrist to see how the scent developed.
Re the film “Quills”- definitely worth a look, also starred Kate Winslett and Joaquin Phoenix in supporting roles.
redscorpio: good for you for branching out…this is a mild leather to begin your journey
Kevin, I started to compose a note here twice. Kind of hard not to get lost in nattering on. I have plenty of thoughts about People Who Try Very Hard, whether academic, or punk, or Tea Party. Embracing something just because it is out there seems just as ridiculous as refusing to venture from center. As for the Marquis’ writings themselves, mmm-hmm. I remember being told that “The Story of O” was all that with a side of coolness. It was…not. But it *did* have a through line, and did focus on human v human interaction, so I guess it was a little less, um, “navel” gazing than O and her piercings.
But both seem to be embraced for effect, not really for how they are composed, which seems to be what the ELd’O Secretions is about, and not the 1740. OTOH, I like the *concept* of Histoires des Pefumes more than most of what I’ve sampled, so maybe that counts as something?
Did I eventually say something here? Hmmm….not sure. How about I say I admire your Liszt-ian ‘do?
ScentScelf: Franz was an early crush of mine…! Such a little pretentious nerd was I! HAHA!
Kevin, I don’t think it’s at all pretentious when you put so much time and energy into an objective. Now, if you had started wearing frock coats like Liszt, THAT might have been just a tad pretentious.
Nozknoz: HAHA! Yep, those coats with the TINY waist and flared at the hip! If I could have found one I’d probably have worn it! With riding boots no less!
Heck, * I * want to wear that outfit! it sounds cute as all get out! I bet you could buy that look head to to from Ralph Lauren too.
I shall henceforth imagine both of you in frock coats and boots as I read your posts!
Am I the only one who smells a whole bunch of immortelle in this fragrance?
Mike: immortelle didn’t come to the fore for me.
Kevin, what a fabulous article! How funny you are! Poor wife, I imagine that she was not getting anywhere near 9 inches worth of satisfaction. I often like immortelle notes (that’s what everlasting flower is, right?) and would like to give this a try.
Ari: I didn’t get much immortelle at all…but (see Mike above) others think it’s strong…better to sample it first.
My problem with 1740 is that it’s just too sweet. There is a caramel smell that dominates, at least on me. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t feel very comfortable in it. And my wife does dislike it. Alas.
Fernando: the sweetness was the opener for me…shall we call it debauched caramel?
“didn’t have the balls” -I LOVE your reviews Kevin! Don’t ever stop being so honest!
Dixie: I’ll try my best!
Ugh. No interest in reading anything by the Marquis de Sade, but I have tried 1740 – it smells like wet cardboard to me. Not in a bad way! At one point, I wanted to buy a bottle cause it was so entrancing. But on subsequent tries, I decided, nope – ain’t for me.
I have a sample set of all of the original HdPs (minus the new tuberose scents and Moulin Rouge). I’ve tried them all, but get confused about the ones I like/don’t like. So many numbers to keep track of. Favorites are 1969 and Noir Patchouli, though I have to say I haven’t worn either properly – only dabbed on the back of my hand. Need to dig them out and give them all a fair testing.
Best of all, though, I’m waiting on a split from Daisy of Moulin Rouge – can’t wait! Thanks, Daisy!!! So excited to try this one…
Karin: I know, keeping those numbers straight in my mind is difficult…and the new sample vials leak on me (literally).
I was 10 times more shoked by Diderot’s La Religieuse then by any of the de Sad’s novels. I’m sorry but these are just 18th century pornography :)))
I also was always surprised by popularity of Nabokov’s Lolita. It’s not his greatest book…
I was thinking the same. Lolita was DULL. And re: below, I don’t know about hairstyles, but musically I certainly prefer Shostakovich.
as for the haircut of an intellectual… for me it would definitely be Dmitri Shostakovich http://www.univer.omsk.su/omsk/im/shost.gif
and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitri_Shostakovich
Veronika: I know you’re right…a badly cut slightly oily “non-style” is more intellectual than Liszt’s romantic bob.
Kevin, huge thanks for this wonderful review! BTW, I bought a travel size spray of FM Geranium pour Monsieur based on your review, and I really enjoy wearing it, so double thanks!
Nozknoz…you’re welcome and GLAD to hear it!
Oh Kevin, this is wonderful! Your writing is such a joy to read. And I’m DYING to see pictures of the Liszt-cut.
Chanterais: the Liszt cut on ME is no more, alas! These days I look more like Rachmaninoff!
Interesting concept for a fragrance. Having read some of his work, and had a similar reaction, I’ve often wondered if there are a lot more people who *say* they’ve read his writings and enjoy them than who actually have. I found it to be more about semi-mechanical permutations over similar situations, and lacking in feeling, sensuality, or depth. Interspersed with lengthy self-congratulatory philosophical passages, which I also found became repetitive and which I think, when boiled down, don’t really say that much after all.
proximity: agree…the very few people I’ve met who SAY they’ve read him always talk about his “free spirit!” I doubt they’d let him housesit for them if it were possible. HA!
Kevin, even if you hate me forever and ever for it (you won’t, I hope!) I feel compelled to be the sole defender here of the Marquis de Sade — I mean the writer. Perhaps it’s because I read him in French: when I discovered his collection of short stories The Crimes of Love at age 16, expecting to find porn, I was instead bowled over by the fine-honed beauty of the language. So much so that by 21 I’d read his whole oeuvre and written my masters dissertation about him: I went on to do a PhD on him as well.
Reading Sade for erotic thrills and entertainment is a test in the limits of what one can stand, and I certainly wouldn’t blame anyone for giving up (even his direct descendent, Thibault de Sade, the son of the first of the de Sades to actually claim him as an ancestor, couldn’t finish the 120 days of Sodom, he said when I interviewed him).
De Sade’s work is about the various philosophies of the Enlightenment pushed to their murderous extremes. But de Sade never killed anyone: the other heirs of the Enlightenment were the ones that set up the guillotine, and de Sade was outspokenly opposed to the death penalty. The sheer repetitiveness is part of the power of the work — it’s probably the most destructive literary machine ever conceived to attack every value, and the sheer strength of the edifice he was taking on — both the religious establishment AND the philosophies of the Enlightenment, especially Rousseau — justified the repeated attacks. But again, the reading is pretty hard going and I wouldn’t blame anyone for giving up on it. And bear in mind that all of it is FICTION: the different characters have different philosophies, and it’s impossible to determine just what the man himself thought and believed.
The movie Quills is a very partial interpretation of a short episode in de Sade’s life. Many noblemen had been much more debauched than he, but somehow he found it more difficult to hide and was first imprisoned by the arbitrary “lettre de cachet” (at the will of the king, with no judgement and no sentence) at the request of his inlaws, mainly for having run off with his sister-in-law, then as a madman after the revolution, mainly for having written his books. So we’re talking about a man jailed for writing, not for committing crimes.
During those periods of enforced abstinence he became obsessed with food and grew quite fat, hence, possibly, the sweet notes in the fragrance.
In his whole body of work, there are practically no mentions of smells per se (the essayist Roland Barthes famously wrote about him: “Shit in its written form doesn’t stink”). His female libertines douses themselves with orange blossom water to recover their… freshness. But that’s it.
For all it’s worth, I’m also not very convinced about Histoires de Parfums’ olfactory rendition of the writer Colette, but that’s another story.
Very interesting! Thank you.
D: I loved reading your brief summation! It’s clear how passionate you are about the subject.
CC: HA! Of course I will not hate you forevermore! (Not even for a minute.) I applaud your labor with Sade.I’d have to find the book, yes, they are still in my possession, but I remember one HORRIBLE episode that I read as Sade’s true feelings about his mother-in-law…La Presidente? It was a “fantasy” about a daughter debauching her own mother, complete with having her raped by a diseased man…and I believe the mother was killed in the end. I admit to the power of that episode…I could not forget it!
And agree on the HdP being unable to really grasp the personalities they associate with their fragrances.
Samples of Hd P were some of the first I got and I loved them, and it was gratifying to see Turin’s good reviews of them in his updates. Having to get them shipped to Australia is a big commitment with the monster-sized bottles… I didn’t try this one but adored 1969, Collette, Patchouli whatever and Ambre 114…that was about 4 out of 6! Then I got onto their website recently and saw their wonderful sample program and sent away for a set ( waiting for the release of the little travel bottles and I’ll get a heap of them! Hurry up hurry up!)
I knew that IFRA regs had caused reformulation, and I was sad to smell that the wonderful lush citrus of Colette had been harmed.
Winifrieda…that’s too bad! Now, Colette is a writer I LOVE…HdP didn’t come close to her personality as I imagine it. Really, Colette perfume with civet?
9″ diameter? I’ve seen smaller pies! Agree that the scent does not match the myth – but as someone who has also read de Sade, I also agree that with any extremes, they don’t shock – they numb and/or bore. Same with Miller, Bataille – take your pick. It just becomes caricature. I remember there was a lot of hype years ago over someone’s Cacao scent at MUA – apparently it was pretty poo-smelling to a lot of people. Seems like this would have been a better match!
Kevin, good review as always. 1740 looked intriguing when I first found the Histoires site a couple years back. I recently sampled and fell in love with George Sand, Collette and Eugenie de Montejo (the CEO loves Sand and says its one of his favorites every time I wear it) and ended up picking up pre-formulations of all three.
I hope to try Mata Hari, 1969, the tuberose trilogy and Moulin Rouge next, and find that even if the fragrance inspired by the individual/time period doesn’t always fit, they are still well done and have such a classic French feel about them that I can’t help but admire them even if I don’t need to own them all.
Quills was a great film and I suppose DeSade peaked my pre-college interest not just for his infamy, but for the upheaval he caused and his relentless exploration on paper of ideas and concepts that still shock and repell even at the cost of his personal freedom. Ah, the rebellious years. I balanced this interest with a Chopin obsession in my late teens and wrote hours of poetry that’d like to give one cavities now if they ever read it, but it made perfect sense at the time.
AbScent: AH…poems written in youth are dangerous to read. I hope I’ve found all mine and burned them.
I mean, de Sade is an invitation to SKANK. And this just sounds queasy.
I really like this one
The really horrible fanfictions I read over my spring break will someday be seen as great literature ♥____♥