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Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos…
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Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782)

by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,394601,117 (4.11)1 / 289
  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
    Viscount Valmont #1 by さいとう ちほ (octopedingenue)
    octopedingenue: manga adaptation of the book
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English (43)  French (8)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Czech (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Plot:
The Victome de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil are thick as thieves, united in their love to manipulate and destroy the people around them, a skill they have so artfully mastered that their ploys don’t fall back on them. Both have a new project: Valmont is trying to seduce Madame de Tourvel who is staying at his aunt’s summer home and who is widely known for her morals and her loyalty to her husband. The Marquise, on the other hand, is looking for revenge on an ex-lover who just got engaged to the naive Cécile who has spent pracitcally her entire life in a convent. So she enlists Valmont’s help to completely corrupt Cécile.

I read this book for the first time when I was in school and I was very much intrigued by it, to say the least. But I haven’t re-read it since, so I was a little worried whether it would still hold up to scrutiny. Nevertheless, when it was announced that they’d show the play here, I figured it’s the ideal opportunity, to revisit the material (I almost finished it before seeing the play, too). Fortunately, the book is still fantastic in very many ways.

Read more on my blog: https://kalafudra.com/2016/04/01/re-read-les-liaisons-dangereuses-dangerous-liaisons-pierre-choderlos-de-laclos/ ( )
1 vote kalafudra | May 10, 2016 |
Had this book since watching Cruel Intentions (this book was source material). An enjoyable though disturbing read. ( )
  kale.dyer | May 8, 2016 |
What a pleasant surprise this book was. Although written in the late 1770s as an epistolary novel, an almost extinct structural device, the content was impressively dateless. The translation by Helen Constantine probably helped this effect - although not excessively modernised, the clear, concise text was probably more readable than the original French.
The plot centres on two aristocrats playing cat and mouse with the lives and loves of others. The story plays on the capriciousness of the two evil characters, and the more normal responses of those around them. I found myself absorbed in the story and finding it sadly believable.
I was impressed by the skill of the author to create a plot that moved along smoothly within the confines of the epistolary structure. The book was inspired by an earlier English novel "Clarissa" but it seems that this one is the one with greater depth in the psychology. In the end, the author uses great skill to bring the threads together, despatch all the main characters, and make a good end to the long tale. I recently read that Jane Austen attempted an epistolary novel, but gave up half way through - it is clearly a difficult structure to carry off successfully.
Read March 2016 ( )
  mbmackay | Mar 3, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this classic, and even though I read a 1961 translation the content of the book still seems fresh. It's hard to imagine how scandalous it must have seemed at the time, as our mores have changed so much. The epistolic style made the plot much more intriguing, and the choice of letter author (and their style) gave it a lot of depth.

The only trouble was having seen the US film a few times, which frequently had me trying to match events in both... ( )
  ellohull | Feb 10, 2016 |
This is a novel told in letters featuring two of the greatest manipulators ever created, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil. They are a couple of the idle rich in pre-revolutionary France who pass their time in having affairs in a cold-blooded way, to exert power, getting at least as much pleasure out of being cruel to people and subsequently ruining them, as they do in the actual pleasures of the flesh.

Their prey? One is a fifteen year old virgin fresh out of the convent, Cecile Volanges, who has been engaged to be married to an older man. Another is a prim and proper married woman, a “prude”, Madame de Tourvel. Valmont seeks to conquer both with direction and assistance from the Marquise, who also has her sights on Danceny, a young man who has fallen in love with Cecile.

Valmont wants to mold Cecile to his fantasies, doing whatever he wants with her, and with such vigor that she will remember him for the rest of her life as her best lover, thus “spoiling her”. However in conquering Madame de Tourvel, he seeks something far worse - he wants to get her to fall in love with him and to submit to him, even though she has been warned about his reputation. Madame de Merteuil, for her part, seeks to control the action of both Valmont and the young innocents, as well as have affairs in ways with men that lead to them disgraced in society, and her reputation unsullied.

They are reptilian allies in pure evil, but while the Marquise condones Valmont’s attempts with Cecile, knowing it’s only physical, she is jealous of Madame de Tourvel, knowing the connection is admiration bordering on love (to the extent Valmont is capable of such an emotion), and because Tourvel is truly rare in her virtue as she holds out. There is thus a tension between the two which lurks in the background for most of the book, and at some point they must clash.

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses” is one of those “morality tales” in that lessons can be derived, but at the same time, it was meant to shock and titillate. In 1782 it was considered pornography and banned, no doubt spurred along with those editions which had been lasciviously illustrated (sadly, this Barnes & Noble Classics is not :p). To the modern reader it’s pretty tame; the sex is only alluded to indirectly, though it may be more powerful as a result.

The book is really about power and seduction in those who are evil, and true love and duty in those who are good, which, while seeming simplistic, held my interest throughout. I found the format of letters to be effective as it allowed emotions to unfold, different perspectives on the same events, and showed the outright two-facedness of the manipulators to be revealed in ways that you might find “delicious”, to use the cliché that seems so fitting here. The letters only get a little slow in repetitiveness in a couple of sections, and I thought the pace was good, though it is a pretty lengthy book. It makes me want to go watch the 1988 Academy Award winning movie of the same name. I was also unaware that the 1999 movie Cruel Intentions was based on the same characters, but it makes sense now.

Quotes:
On love, this from Danceny to Cecile:
“And what have I to tell you, that my eyes, my embarrassment, my conduct and even my silence have not told you already? And why should you take offense at a sentiment to which you have given birth? Emanating from you, it is doubtless worthy to be offered to you; if it is ardent as my soul, it is pure as your own. Shall it be a crime to have known how to appreciate your charming face, your seductive talents, your enchanting graces, and that touching candor which adds inestimable value to qualities already so precious?”

On love, or an affair, denied, from Tourvel to Valmont:
“Loved and esteemed by a husband whom I both love and respect, my duty and my pleasure are centered in the same object. I am happy, I must be so. If pleasures more keen exist, I do not desire them; I would not know them. Can there be any that are sweeter than that of being at peace with oneself, of knowing only days that are serene, of sleeping without trouble and awaking without remorse? What you call happiness is but a tumult of the senses, a tempest of passions of which the mere view from the shore is terrible. Ah! why confront these tempests? How dare embark upon a sea covered with the debris of so many thousand shipwrecks? And with whom? No Monsieur, I stay on the shore; I cherish the bonds which unite me to it. I would not break them if I could; were I not held by them, I should hasten to procure them.”

Later:
“Do not think that absence will ever alter my sentiments for you: how shall I ever succeed in overcoming them, when I have no longer the courage to combat them? You see, I tell you all; I fear less to confess my weakness than to succumb to it; but that control which I have lost over my feelings I shall retain over my actions; yes, I shall retain it, I am resolved, be it at the cost of my life.”

On the passionless, this in a letter from Merteuil to Valmont:
“What a disgrace if you fail! and how little glory even if you succeed! I say more; expect no pleasure from it. Is there ever any with your prudes? I mean those in good faith. Reserved in the very midst of pleasure, they give you but a half enjoyment. That utter self-abandonment, that delirium of joy, where pleasure is purified by excess, those good things of love are not known to them. I warn you: in the happiest supposition, your Presidente will think she has done everything for you, if she treats you as her husband; and in the most tender of conjugal tete-a-tetes you are always two.” ( )
2 vote gbill | Jul 4, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (103 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laclos, Pierre Choderlos deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldington, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beretta Anguissola, AlbertoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bigliosi Franck, CinziaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coward, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delon, MichelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malraux, AndréIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morriën, AdriaanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Papadopoulos, JoëlNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruata, AdolfoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, P. W. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Ho veduto i costumi del mio tempo e ho pubblicato queste lettere. J.-J. Rousseau, prefazione alla 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.
Last words
(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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140441166, Paperback)

An epistolary novel chronicles the cruel seduction of a young girl by two ruthless, 18th-century aristocrats.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:16 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Depicting decadence and moral corruption in pre-revolutionary France, Dangerous Liaisons is one of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature. Two aristocrats embark on a sophisticated game of seduction and manipulation to bring amusement to their jaded existences. While the Marquise de Merteuil challenges the Vicomte de Valmont to seduce an innocent convent girl, the Vicomte is also occupied with the conquest of a virtuous married woman.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140449574, 0141195142

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