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Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782)

by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,633781,392 (4.1)1 / 350
The complex moral ambiguities of seduction and revenge make Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) one of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature. Its prime movers, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil--gifted, wealth, and bored--form an unholy alliance and turn seduction into a game. And they play this game with such wit and style that it is impossible not to admire them, until they discover mysterious rules that they cannot understand. In the ensuing battle there can be no winners, and the innocent suffer with the guilty. This new translation gives Laclos a modern voice, and readers will be able to judge whether the novel is as "diabolical" and "infamous" as its critics have claimed, or whether it has much to tell us about a world we still inhabit.… (more)
  1. 20
    Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac (kristelako)
  2. 10
    The Mandrake Root by Niccolò Machiavelli (timoroso)
  3. 00
    Quartett by Heiner Müller (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: "Quartett": Ein Schauspiel nach Choderlos de Laclos' Gefährliche Liebschaften bearbeitet
  4. 11
    Le Vicomte de Valmont; les Liaisons dangereuses (1) by Chiho Saito (octopedingenue)
    octopedingenue: manga adaptation of the book
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» See also 350 mentions

English (57)  French (10)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  Czech (1)  German (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Celebrated for its exploration of seduction, revenge and malice, presented in the form of fictional letters collected and published by a fictional author. The book was viewed as scandalous at the time of its publication, though the real intentions of the author remain unknown. It has been suggested that Laclos's intention was the same as that of his fictional author in the novel; to write a morality tale about the French nobility of the Ancien Régime. The theory has been questioned on several grounds; Laclos enjoyed the patronage of France's most senior aristocrat—Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. All the characters in the story are aristocrats, including the virtuous ones like Madame de Tourvel and Madame de Rosemonde and many royalist and conservative figures enjoyed the book, including Queen Marie Antoinette, which suggests that—despite its scandalous reputation—it was not viewed as a political work until the French Revolution made it appear as such, with the benefit of hindsight.

Les Liaisons dangereuses is a literary counter-thesis to the epistolary novel as exemplified by Richardson's Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. Whereas Richardson uses the technique of letters to provide the reader with a feeling of knowing the protagonist's true and intimate thoughts, Laclos' use of this literary device is the opposite: by presenting the reader with grossly conflicting views from the same writer when addressing different recipients, it is left to the reader to reconcile story, intentions and characters behind the letters. The use of duplicitous characters with one virtuous face can be viewed as a complex criticism of the immensely popular naïve moral epistolary novel. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Aug 28, 2021 |
Fiction
  hpryor | Aug 8, 2021 |
The author was a soldier. The story is set out in an exchange of letters among several characters. Two of these are nasty people who undertake an intricate plan to ruin the lives of two innocent women by campaigns resulting in their seductions. The campaigns resemble the detailed type of planning and responses to contingencies encountered in military campaigns. One villain acts for the challenge, the other for revenge on a fifth party. This is all well, and the villains are finally punished, but the letters became tedious. The letter-style does not help.

This would have been original, skillful and titillating reading two hundred years ago, thus three stars rather than two. ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
Amoral aristocrats amuse themselves with scandalous affairs.

2/4 (Indifferent).

The main characters are rarely entertaining in their evil schemes. Valmont in particular, whose letters take up nearly half the book, is gross and irritating in a very Online Commenter sort of way.

(Jun. 2021) ( )
  comfypants | Jun 23, 2021 |
I might never have read this book if I hadn't joined a book club, and I really would have missed out. I'd expected to have to slog my way through, but not at all. I was drawn in right from the beginning.

The aristocratic Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont were once lovers, and have remained friends. They take pride in their heartlessness and amuse themselves by seducing and ruining the vain, the naive and the virtuous. To please the Marquise, who wants revenge on a former lover, Valmont carries out a campaign to seduce the ex-lover's fifteen year-old fiancee, Cecile, who has just left the convent. Normally the daughters of the aristocracy remain cloistered in the convent right up until the last moment, but Cecile is at her mother's house because the wedding has been postponed, so she is at risk. On his own account, Valmont plans to seduce the Presidente Tourval, a virtuous, religious woman.

This is an epistolary novel. Valmont and Merteuil plan their detailed, long-range, intricate campaigns by letter and manage to get hold of their victims' letters as well, so they can measure their progress, plan their next moves, and amuse themselves at their victims' naivete. At the same time, Valmont and Merteuil are trying to manipulate and dominate one another, and this is what leads to their downfall.

I read the Penguin Classic edition, translated by Helen Considine. Very easy to read. ( )
  pamelad | Feb 26, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Martin de Haan, die eerder onder meer het werk van Houellebecq en Kundera vertaalde, maakt het boek onder de titel Riskante relaties levendiger en spannender dan het tevoren in het Nederlands ooit was. Dit komt vooral doordat hij er, veel meer dan Adriaan Morriën die de tot nu toe bekendste vertaling maakte, verbluffend goed in slaagt de zeven heel verschillende personages die de brieven schrijven, tot leven te wekken.
added by Jozefus | editNRC Handelsblad, Judith Eiselin (pay site) (Jan 12, 2018)
 
Les Liaisons dangereuses is not only a terrifying portrayal of high society, of a ruling class who have ceased to rule, it is one of the world's finest novels, as well as a dramatic presentation of a mature and analytic philosophy of the nature of evil and the interactions of human motivations. After this one book, a pivot in the history of the novel, things could never be the same again, not at least for any novelist who read and understood it...

It is all so elegant. Even the priests and nuns are elegant, but of course the devils are the most elegant of all. In the end they have nothing else, and then that is destroyed. What destroys them is their rivalry in evil. Unlike Milton's Hell, there is hierarchy in this human one, Lucifer and Beelzebub, male and female, ex-lovers who have already violated each other's pride, are enemies, each hiding hate from the other. The instrument of their destruction is their reason. They are Socrates' or Diderot's fully rational human beings. They use their reason to destroy others and are at last destroyed by their own irrationality—something they did not beheve existed.
added by SnootyBaronet | editSaturday Review, Kenneth Rexroth
 

» Add other authors (80 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laclos, Pierre Choderlos deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldington, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Allem, MauriceEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beretta Anguissola, AlbertoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bigliosi Franck, CinziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coward, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delon, MichelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fehr, A.J.A.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kekomäki, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malraux, AndréIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morriën, AdriaanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Papadopoulos, JoëlNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parmée, DouglasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Praquin, PierreCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruata, AdolfoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, P. W. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Ik heb de zeden van mijn tijd gezien en deze brieven openbaar gemaakt. – J.-J. Rousseau, voorwoord bij Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse
Dedication
First words
Well, Sophie dear, as you see, I'm keeping my word and not spending all my time on bonnets and bows, I'll always have some to spare for you!
Quotations
I was amazed at the pleasure a good deed can produce and I'm tempted to think that those so-called virtuous people don't deserve quite as much credit as we are invited to believe.
I perceive that it is three o'clock in the morning, and that I have written a volume, with the intention but to write a word. Such is the charm of confident friendship: 'tis on account of that, that you are always he whom I love the best; but, in truth, the Chevalier pleases me more.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Les Liaisons Dangereuses was published under the title Valmont to tie-in with the Milos Forman film. It is the same book and should not be separated.
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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The complex moral ambiguities of seduction and revenge make Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) one of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature. Its prime movers, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil--gifted, wealth, and bored--form an unholy alliance and turn seduction into a game. And they play this game with such wit and style that it is impossible not to admire them, until they discover mysterious rules that they cannot understand. In the ensuing battle there can be no winners, and the innocent suffer with the guilty. This new translation gives Laclos a modern voice, and readers will be able to judge whether the novel is as "diabolical" and "infamous" as its critics have claimed, or whether it has much to tell us about a world we still inhabit.

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Haiku summary
What can you do with
Fifteen dozen French letters?
Here are some ideas.
(thorold)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140449574, 0141195142

 

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