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David Hume

Home— Vancouver, British Columbia , Canada. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, lecturer, , instructor, , assistant professor, , associate professor, , professor of eighteenth-century French literature , , professor emeritus, —, head of department of French, Laurence L. Bongie is best known for his studies of Scottish philosopher David Hume and the French writer and libertine the Marquis de Sade.

Introduction to Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

During his lifetime the Marquis de Sade was reviled for the extreme sexual aberrations portrayed in his novels. He was also imprisoned, including in the Bastille, for nearly thirty years, for acting out those aberrations. Yet since his death in , certain avant-garde literary movements and some literary historians have rehabilitated—and according to Bongie "romanticized"—Sade, praising his writings and portraying him as a champion of individual freedom rebelling against a restrictive bourgeois society.

Fashion: Rhetoric of Death?

Bongie's assessment of the infamous Marquis, both as a writer and a man, is less generous. According to Thomas L. Cooksey of Library Journal: "Bongie offers a valuable correction to the perception of Sade as a profound thinker, a great writer, and a martyr to liberty. Using letters, Sade's own writings and newly found police records, he goes about his work like a detective or an investigative reporter to expose what he believes was the true Sade. Comparing the two books in the Times Literary Supplement, Cristina Monet felt that Sade "cannot be so easily disposed of" as Bongie's analysis would have it.

Henry Hitchings, for New Statesman, also reviewed the two biographies together.


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Hitchings described Bongie's work as "the more scholarly enterprise … attractive. Bongie responded to the criticism thusly: "Robert Darnton in the New York Review of Books is not wrong when he identifies as a basic premise of my critical writing the less than fashionable view that there is a person behind the literary text and that it is both legitimate and useful to look for linkages between an author's life and writings. I confess to an emotional bias in favor of literary scholarship that is more than a kind of linguistic scrabble.

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David Hume: Prophet of the Counter-Revolution, by Laurence L. Bongie. | Canadian Journal of History

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Volume David Hume: Prophet of the Counter-Revolution. Peter Amann. State University of New York. Oxford Academic.

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