The Torture Garden, written by Octave Mirbeau in 1899, is one of the most extreme books ever to be published. Ostensibly dealing with the theme of torture as a refined art form in China, and depicting a dissolute bureaucrat led by an extraordinary woman into the depths of depravity, this is an absolute black humor critique of the values of Western Civilization with its duplicitous rules of social conduct and political power-brokering. A totally contemporary indictment of corruption in government, this work also lays bare the politics of the conservative scientific establishment and the evil inherent in bureaucracy. Additionally, the Colonialist mentality with its brutish institutionalized killings of natives and animals is vividly contrasted with the exquisite tortures of the garden.
“Extraordinary. I loved the illustrations, done with all the sophistication I take for granted from RE/Search, with their strange washed-out light and postures that might be out of some 1930s novel.” — J.G. Ballard