10 of the Strangest ‘Passions’ from The 120 Days

1. Makes her run naked on a freezing winter’s night in the middle of a garden, and there are ropes stretched across at intervals to trip her.

2. A bugger of men and women alike employs another powder whose effect is to deprive you of your senses and render you as if dead; you are indeed believed to be so – you are buried and you die in despair in your coffin, where you immediately come to your senses. He endeavours to stand over the spot in which you are buried to see if he can hear any screams – if he does he faints with pleasure. He has some of his family killed in this way.

3. They make her swallow a serpent which in turn will devour her.

4. He lets a girl sleep in her usual bedroom, the window of which she knows is very low to the ground: she is given opium; when she is fast asleep, she is moved to another bedroom identical to her own save for a window far higher off the ground that opens on to sharp stones; next, he barges into her bedroom, terrifying her; he tells her he is going to kill her; knowing her window to be low to the ground, she opens it and leaps through in great haste, but she falls on to the sharp stones from over thirty feet high, killing herself without anyone laying a finger on her.

5. He attaches a young girl, slim and attractive, to serve as a rod for a large rocket – she is carried off and falls back to earth with the rocket.

6. Sends for a woman with beautiful hair under the sole pretext of examining it, but treacherously cuts it off and comes when he sees her lament this misfortune, which makes him laugh a great deal.

7. He sews a girl into a fresh donkey-skin, with her head sticking out; he feeds her, and leaves her inside it until the animal’s hide suffocates her as it shrinks.

8. The seducer mentioned by Duclos gathers two women together: he exhorts the first to save her life by renouncing God and her religion, but she has been prompted beforehand not to do anything of the sort and told that if she does she will be killed, while if she does not no harm will come to her. She stands firm and he blows her brains out – ‘There’s one for God!’ He summons the second woman who, struck both by this example and by what she was told on the sly – that the only way to save her life was to renounce God – does everything that is asked of her. He blows her brains out – ‘There’s another for the Devil! The scoundrel plays this little game every week.

9. To combine incest, adultery, sodomy and sacrilege, he buggers his married daughter with a host.

10. He has the girl placed on a small trestle facing a deep pond, beyond which is a wall that offers an escape all the more assured as there is a ladder leaning against it, but first she has to dive into the pond, and this is all the more urgent as behind the trestle upon which she is placed a slow-burning fire is gaining on her little by little – if the fire reaches her she will be consumed, and if she dives into the water to avoid the fire she will drown as she does not know how to swim; with the fire upon her, she nevertheless chooses to throw herself into the water and head for the ladder she sees against the wall. Often the girl will drown, and there is no more to be said; if she is fortunate enough to reach the ladder she climbs up it, but a sabotaged rung near the top breaks underfoot when she reaches it, tipping her into a pit covered over with earth, which she had not seen and which, buckling under her weight, drops her into a flaming brazier where she perishes.

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