Released for a time during the French Revolution, he succeeded in having some plays produced by the Comédie Française, and during his final confinement at Charenton he directed theatrical performances by the inmates. De Sade brought to light the controversial theory that since both sexual deviation and criminal acts exist in nature, they are therefore natural. This was in violent opposition to the spirit of his times but made him a precursor of modern psychological thought. The sexual aberration in which cruelty is inflicted in order to attain sexual release is termed sadism after him. Generally banned for obscenity, de Sade's works were almost all published in expurgated or unofficial editions. The complete works, edited by Gilbert Lély, appeared in 1966-68 (8 vol.).
See biographies by G. Lély (tr. 1961, repr. 1970), R. Hayman (1978), F. du P. Gray (1998), and N. Schaeffer (1998); essays by S. de Beauvoir (tr. 1953) and L. L. Bongie (1998); studies by G. Gorer (rev. ed. 1953, repr. 1963), N. Gear (1963), A. Le Brun (tr. 1989), and C. V. Michael (1986 and 1989).