byMaurice Lever. Farrar Straus & Giroux, $35.00. Mr. Lever has located some previously unpublished letters concerning the wicked marquis and used them in his biography of the socially rebellious libertine author who spent much of his life in jails and lunatic asylums. The new material adds little information to what is generally known of De Sade, but does elucidate the operations of French law before the Revolution, when the wire-pulling of influential connections counted for much more than the statutes. Mr. Lever gives considerable space to De Sade’s father, on the ground that his dishonesty in office and his adherence to the troublesome house of Condé led the authorities to pursue his son for conduct only marginally worse than that of many another nobleman. The marquis’s family, particularly his mother-in-law, had reasons based on property and inheritance rights for preferring to keep him out of action. The sexually violent fictions that he managed to publish outraged the pious, whether they had actually read the work or not. His biographer deals efficiently with the large cast of De Sade’s enemies, relatives, and victims, and with the convolutions of French justice and finance, and quotes effectively from correspondence. The marquis was a master of epistolary denunciation, impressively imaginative if quite unrelated to fact. As an author, De Sade has been admired by Flaubert and Baudelaire, and as a rebel, he has been claimed as a forerunner by Dadaists and Surrealists. Despite his erratic and impractical conduct, De Sade was undoubtedly intelligent, and perhaps he can fairly be considered the result of personal intelligence incongruously surviving in a putrescent society— for such is the society that Mr. Lever has vividly described.