Granta's new How to Read series is based on a very simple, but novel, idea. Most beginners' guides to great thinkers and writers offer either potted biographies or condensed summaries of their major works. How to Read, by contrast, brings the reader face to face with the writing itself in the company of an expert guide. Its starting point is that in order to get close to what a writer is all about, you have to get close to the words they actually use and be shown how to read those words. Each book in the series will hopefully be a masterclass in reading. Our authors have been asked to select ten or so short extracts from a writer's work and look at them in detail as a way of revealing their central ideas and thereby opening the doors onto a whole world of thought. The books will not be merely a compilation of a thinker's most famous passages, their 'greatest hits', but will rather offer a series of clues or keys that will enable to reader to go on and make discoveries of their own. In addition to the texts and readings, each book will provide a short biographical chronology and suggestions for further reading, internet resources and so on.
The books in the How to Read don't claim to tell you all you need to know. Instead they offer a refreshing set of first-hand meetings with those minds. Our hope is that these books will instruct, intrigue, embolden, encourage and delight. John Phillips introduces the Marquis de Sade's highly original and thoroughly subversive depiction of human sexuality, and the philosophical and political thinking that underpins it. He shows how, though Sade's work continues to shock, it can also be seen as the logical conclusion of eighteenth-century materialism. As the only writer of his time who dared to put the body at the centre of philosophy, Sade has a unique place in the history of modern thought. Extracts are taken from the whole range of Sade's literary, philosophical and personal writings, including The 120 Days of Sodom; Philosophy in the Boudoir; Justine; Juliette; and his Last Will and Testament.
John Phillips is Professor of French Literature and Culture at London Metropolitan University. He is the author of a number of books on French literature, including Forbidden Fictions: Pornography and Censorship in Twentieth-Century French Literature and Sade: The Libertine Novels. He is currently co-editing The Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature for Routledge.