* HistoricalVillainDowngrade: De Sade's writings are well known of course, but most people do not realize that he appears to have acted on the same impulses his characters expressed. He was imprisoned repeatedly for raping prostitutes and servants, getting off lightly because he was a nobleman. Despite his notoriety, these crimes are rarely mentioned when his name comes up and there is even an attempt to rehabilitate his name, claiming he was an important liberal thinker with progressive attitudes. Like all people, De Sade was complex, so this might be true somewhat on a few issues-he opposed capital punishment, for instance-but his view on women (as seen in his writings) was retrograde even in his time-he deemed them naturally subject to men, to the point that they should be open for sex whenever a man wanted it. His "individualism" thus stretched to the point of more or less "anything goes" ([[DoubleStandard for men]]).
* MoralEventHorizon: [[spoiler:Eugénie raping her mother and ''sewing her genitals shut'' after [[ThePunishment having her infected with syphillis]].]]
* NauseaFuel: Copious amounts of it. ''The 120 Days of Sodom'' is the most notorious in this regard, but almost all of Sade's works have content that can easily turn a reader's stomach.
* NightmareFuel: ''The 120 Days of Sodom'': At first it's just NauseaFuel. Then you get to the gorn. Which includes [[spoiler: rape, torture, sodomy, and killing of innocents in most brutal ways]]. What's worse, it was made into [[Film/SaloOrThe120DaysOfSodom one of the most challenging films of all time]], similar in notoriety to [[spoiler: ''Film/CannibalHolocaust'' and ''Film/MenBehindTheSun''.]]