Torture Garden- a book about a chinese prison

Today I want to talk about a book, that I read. Some of the scenes are way beyond what I have read about torture. I cannot forget them. But I don’t want to give away the best bits. Go and read it “Torture Garden” by Octave Mirbeau- start with the “part IV- the garden”. It is about “a visit to a Cantonese prison by a narrator accompanied by the sadist and hysteric clara, who delights in witnessing flayings, crucifixions and numerous tortures, all done in beautifully laid out and groomed gardens, and explaining the beauty of torture to her companion. Finally she attains hysterical orgasm and passes out in exhaustion, only to begin again a few days later. “

“While I was an honorable man in her eyes, she did not love me. But the minute she understood what I was, when she breathed the true and foul odor of my soul, love was born in her – for she does love me! Well, well! There is nothing real, then, except evil.” 

“Monsters, monsters! But there are no monsters! What you call monsters are superior forms, or forms beyond your understanding. Aren’t the gods monsters? Isn’t a man of genius a monster, like a tiger or a spider, like all individuals who live beyond social lies, in the dazzling and divine immortality of things? Why, I too then-am a monster!” 

“Why, flowers are violent, cruel, terrible, splendid…like love.” 

“Woman possesses the cosmic force of an element, an invincible force of destruction, like nature’s. She is, in herself alone, all nature! Being the matrix of life, she is by that very fact the matrix of death

“Alas, the gates of life never swing open except upon death, never open except upon the palaces and
gardens of death. And the universe appears to me like an immense, inexorable torture-garden… What I
say today, and what I heard, exists and cries and howls beyond this garden, which is no more than a
symbol to me of the entire earth.” 

“In that atrocious second I understood that desire can attain the darkest human terror and give an actual idea of hell and its horror.”

“Think what it must be like for a victim about to die under torture. Think how the torture must be multiplied in his flesh and soul with the splendour that surrounds him! And how his agony must become more atrocious, more desperately atrocious, dearest heart!”

“The negroes [..]”

“Then why kill them?” I objected, for I suddenly felt kind and full of pity.

“But I just told you..civilize them. And it’s lots of fun!”

“Do you hear? There they are! Do you hear?” Then, from beyond the murmur f the crowd which thronged the passageway, from beyond the hum of voices, I perceived cries, hollow moans, the dragging of chains, breath panting like a forge- a strange and prolonged growling of beasts. It seemed to come from the depths of the wall, from below the ground, from the very abyss of death. You could not tell whence.”

“In the wall at the right there were vast cells, or rather cages, enclosed by bars and separated from each other by thick stone partitions. The first ten were each occupied by ten condemned men; and all ten offered the same spectacle. Their necks were clasped in a pillory so wide it was impossible to see their bodies, and you’d have thought they were frightful severed living heads placed on tables. Crouched amid their filth, their hands and feet chained, they could neither stretch nor lie down, nor even take a rest. The slightest movement displaced the iron collars about their bare throats and bleeding necks, and made them utter howls of pain, alternately interspersed with fierce insults to us and supplications to the gods. I was mute with horror. Deftly, with pretty shivers and exquisite gestures, Clara prodded in the boy’s basket, and lifted out some small scraps of meat, which she gracefully tossed through the bars of the cage. Ten heads simultaneously turned in their balanced collars; simultaneously, twenty bulging eyeballs cast inflamed glances at the meat-glances of terror and hunger. “