This essay considers a range of artistic and intellectual responses to the Algerian War of Independence that foregrounded the problem of extreme violence. It homes in on the suggestive nexus between anti-colonial solidarities in the metropole and the obsessive concern of artistic, literary, and philosophical avant-gardes with the thought of the Marquis de Sade. It explores how the returns to and of Sade that punctuated the French intellectual scene over the twentieth century could serve as a prism through which to politicize, represent and challenge the manifestations of extreme state and para-state violence in a colonial setting.

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