Les Liaisons dangereuses books – Bilb-weil.de

The complex moral ambiguities of seduction and revenge make Les Liaisons dangereusesone of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature The subject of major film and stage adaptations, the novel s prime movers, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil, form an unholy alliance and turn seduction into a game a game which they must win This new translation gives Laclos a modern voice, and readers will be able a judge whether the novel is as diabolical and infamous as its critics have claimed, or whether it has much to tell us about the kind of world we ourselves live in David Coward s introduction explodes myths about Laclos s own life and puts the book in its literary and cultural context


10 thoughts on “Les Liaisons dangereuses

  1. Bill Kerwin Bill Kerwin says:

    Dangerous Liaisons improves as it progresses I was tempted to abandon it, but I persisted and am glad, for although this epistolary novel of the last days of the ancien regime initially appears to be stylish but superficial it soon grows in both subtlety and power Many of the difficulties of the book are perhaps inevitable in any work that chronicles seduction in epistolary form The letters of the wicked are elegant, the letters of the good are instructive, but the letters of the naive and Dangerous Liaisons improves as it progresses I was tempted to abandon it, but I persisted and am glad, for although this epistolary novel of the last days of the ancien regime initially appears to be stylish but superficial it soon grows in both subtlety and power Many of the difficulties of the book are perhaps inevitable in any work that chronicles seduction in epistolary form The letters of the wicked are elegant, the letters of the good are instructive, but the letters of the naive and innocent are by necessity simple and ingenuous, and their lack of awareness both taxes the patience and dissipates the interest of the reader, all theso because they aggravate his sympathies and frustrate his moral impulses at the same time Moreover, once we accustom ourselves to the novel s stylistic beauties, we become aware that the other literary pleasures we receive from it are not only emotionally coarse and morally perverse, but also devoid of suspense, as we watch those who are invincible in wickedness debauch the defenseless and the good.A third of the way through, however, we learnabout our depraved aristocrats, and our interest in the novel grows We learn that the Vicomte de Valmont can enjoy a philanthropic pleasure while failing to appreciate its intrinsic value, seeing it merely as one step on the path of Madame de Tourvel s seduction This makes him appear less innately evil, and thus perhaps paradoxicallythoroughly damned.Then, almost halfway through, the Marquise de Merteuil tells Valmont the story of her self imposed moral education in emotional control and duplicity, and although we cannot bring ourselves to like her we come to sympathize with any woman like herself, born with a commanding character and prodigious appetites, who must strive to preserve her respectability in a ritualized patriarchal society.In the novel s second half, the plot gets thicker, the dupes grow wiser, and the games that once appeared witty and decadent now seem pointless and destructive In the end, the plot veers sharply from the amoral toward the moralistic, but keeps itself from plummeting into sanctimony by the absurdity of the punishments allocated for the wicked This formal resolution like the endings of Measure for Measure and All s Well that Ends Well fulfills without satisfying, and therefore leads us to continue to question the moral lessons we already thought we had learned


  2. Adina Adina says:

    That rare feeling, that glow and knowing smile when you finish a book that satisfies you completely I took my sweet time with this epistolary novel because it was delicious and I did not want it to end Plus, I could only read a limited amount of letters in one day The novel takes the form of a fair amount of letter send between multiple characters and exposes the degradation of the French high society before the Revolution The two main characters are the libertine Vicomte de Valmont and The That rare feeling, that glow and knowing smile when you finish a book that satisfies you completely I took my sweet time with this epistolary novel because it was delicious and I did not want it to end Plus, I could only read a limited amount of letters in one day The novel takes the form of a fair amount of letter send between multiple characters and exposes the degradation of the French high society before the Revolution The two main characters are the libertine Vicomte de Valmont and The Marquise de Merteuil who engage in a cruel seduction game of tragic consequences The two friends and former lovers plan a complex seduction game that should bring them revenge on two people that did them wrong, corrupting and destroying innocents on the way The book also shows the differences between the condition of women in society, whose virtue had to be intact, otherwise they were lost Their role was of victims in ownership games when, on the other hand, men had a lotfreedom to play around and to hunt The Marquise said at some point that she was acting the way she did to avenge her sex Playing the innocent when in fact she was seducing and punishing men was her way to get even However,women then men became victims of her schemes Being a classic, the novel ended maybe a little too neat, all parts being punished some way of another but I thoroughly enjoyed each beautiful, elaborated, seductive, vengeful word written in this novel PS I also watched the 1988 movie, very well done The cast was ridiculously good John Malkovich, Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thruman and a very young Keanu Reeves 3


  3. WILLIAM2 WILLIAM2 says:

    An absolutely magnificent novel To think that it was published in 1782, seven years before the French Revolution Libert galit fraternitIt has been argued that the novel thus caught a doomed aristocracy distracted by decadent and libertine ways that would soon be its undoing The gift the novel s main characters display for casuistry, calumny, prevarication and cynical self involvement takes the breath away The novel is so tightly wrapped, so self referential, that I doubt I will find an An absolutely magnificent novel To think that it was published in 1782, seven years before the French Revolution Libert galit fraternitIt has been argued that the novel thus caught a doomed aristocracy distracted by decadent and libertine ways that would soon be its undoing The gift the novel s main characters display for casuistry, calumny, prevarication and cynical self involvement takes the breath away The novel is so tightly wrapped, so self referential, that I doubt I will find an extraneous word on this third reading, though I shall try I bought this Folio Society edition crushed carmine silk over boards some years ago to commemorate past readings and carry me through future ones A stunning novel A book for real readers


  4. Lisa Lisa says:

    Oh the painful brilliance of these letters Someone recently said to me that it is sad that people have stopped writing old fashioned letters, being so muchpersonal and private than the frequently impolite, monosyllabic insults people tend to spit out on Twitter, Facebook and in various comment threads on the internet I agreed, but continued to think about it, and all of a sudden, this epistolary novel came to my mind in all its passionate evil power Choderlos de Laclos certainly is a pe Oh the painful brilliance of these letters Someone recently said to me that it is sad that people have stopped writing old fashioned letters, being so muchpersonal and private than the frequently impolite, monosyllabic insults people tend to spit out on Twitter, Facebook and in various comment threads on the internet I agreed, but continued to think about it, and all of a sudden, this epistolary novel came to my mind in all its passionate evil power Choderlos de Laclos certainly is a perfect example of the good old times that were not really better, and that featured the same hateful, jealous, treacherous, spiteful characters, happy to engage in intrigues and dangerous games with high stakes, always exposed to the threat of publication of written evidence Sex and power, twisted love and betrayal those ingredients make up the plot of this exquisite, polyphonic selection of letters written between various protagonists, playing a game of seduction with each other in different formations.In the end, they all pay the price for their game There is one letter especially that reminds me of what teenagers thoughtlessly do today copying, spreading or retweeting evil comments without thinking of the consequences until they feel the effects like a boomerang coming back full speed.The evil, jealous Marquise de Merteuil challenges her lover, the Vicomte de Valmont, to break up with a virtuous lady he has seduced as part of a cruel entertainment She writes the most horrible, yet eloquent letter imaginable, and the Vicomte copies it word for word and passes it on to Madame de Tourvel, the victim of the intrigue As expected by the Marquise, this breaks the tender woman It has another victim as well, however The Vicomte realises that he has grown to love the lady he played with, and regrets his own cruelty when it is too late And this sets in motion a disastrous chain of events leading to the spreading of all letters relating to the scandalous behaviour of these representatives of the highest social layers in French society.If you play in the highest league of society, every secret you share is a potential liability, and that is just as true now as it was in the 18th century The famous letter in question repeats the typical excuse you will hear whenever a person in power behaves badly Ce n est pas ma faute Don t blame me I just reacted to my instincts and needs Don t blame me But Choderlos de Laclos remains a classical author in one respect he is careful to let poetical justice prevail in the end None of the evil players of games is let off the hook Once publicly exposed in their evil plotting, the main characters are punished.The ominous letter is well worth reading in its entirety It contains all ingredients of a brutal public dumping of a faithful, caring lover, out of boredom and satiation Rarely has copy and paste cruelty been expressed inbeautiful language On s ennuie de tout, mon ange, c est une loi de la nature ce n est pas ma faute.Si donc, je m ennuie aujourd hui d une aventure qui m a occup enti rement depuis quatre mortels mois, ce n est pas ma faute.Si, par exemple, j ai eu juste autant d amour que toi de vertu, et c est surement beaucoup dire, il n est pas tonnant que l un ait fini en m me temps que l autre Ce n est pas ma faute.Il suit de l , que depuis quelque temps je t ai tromp e mais aussi ton impitoyable tendresse m y for ait en quelque sorte Ce n est pas ma faute.Aujourd hui, une femme que j aime perdument exige que je te sacrifie Ce n est pas ma faute.Je sens bien que voil une belle occasion de crier au parjure mais si la Nature n a accord aux hommes que la constance, tandis qu elle donnait aux femmes l obstination, ce n est pas ma faute.Crois moi, choisis un autre amant, comme j ai fait une ma tresse Ce conseil est bon, tr s bon si tu le trouve mauvais, ce n est pas ma faute.Adieu, mon ange, je t ai prise avec plaisir, je te quitte sans regrets je te reviendrai peut tre Ainsi va le monde Ce n est pas ma faute Oh the brilliance Humanity is equally cruel nowadays, but what on earth happened to eloquence


  5. Michelle Michelle says:

    By the second letter, the film Cruel Intentions bloomed in my mind I never even bothered to learn where that movie was adapted from Now, I m quite happy to have come upon this book I just love the Surprise Yourself stack at my library I was intimidated at first, but after a few pages, I was hooked This is deliciously devious and entertaining On the surface, reading Les Liaisons Dangereuses is nodifficult than following a very long Facebook conversation thread even better if By the second letter, the film Cruel Intentions bloomed in my mind I never even bothered to learn where that movie was adapted from Now, I m quite happy to have come upon this book I just love the Surprise Yourself stack at my library I was intimidated at first, but after a few pages, I was hooked This is deliciously devious and entertaining On the surface, reading Les Liaisons Dangereuses is nodifficult than following a very long Facebook conversation thread even better if you have scandalous friends not that I have any If this novel is an accurate picture of the French aristocratic class of the time, it s easy to see why revolution was brewing among the peasants and working classes There are no happy endings here, except maybe for me I m quite satisfied that the characters got what they deserved


  6. Manny Manny says:

    Letter 94 Viscomte de Rayner to the Goodreads CommunityThis morning, I thought of M de Laclos s charming novel for the first time in years, when an interfering busybody saw fit to edit my Quiz question about it I was forced to spend an hour checking the text, so that I could thoroughly refute her misconceptions about C cile s role in the story, and I trust I shall hear nofrom the vile creature But, none the less, I am grateful to her, since she reminded me that I should read it in the Letter 94 Viscomte de Rayner to the Goodreads CommunityThis morning, I thought of M de Laclos s charming novel for the first time in years, when an interfering busybody saw fit to edit my Quiz question about it I was forced to spend an hour checking the text, so that I could thoroughly refute her misconceptions about C cile s role in the story, and I trust I shall hear nofrom the vile creature But, none the less, I am grateful to her, since she reminded me that I should read it in the original French I fail to understand how I can have postponed this pleasant task so long The rest of this review is available elsewhere the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons


  7. Dolors Dolors says:

    Definitely the best epistolary book I have ever read and probably one of the best novels displaying the double morale in the eighteenth century Paris.Monsieur de Laclos masters the style, creating two hero villain characters whom, although monsters without scruples, one can t help to admire They are playful, amusing, witty and skillful in the art of deception They are also vain, prideful creatures who seek their own pleasure without caring for the outcome of their poor victims.Marquise de Mert Definitely the best epistolary book I have ever read and probably one of the best novels displaying the double morale in the eighteenth century Paris.Monsieur de Laclos masters the style, creating two hero villain characters whom, although monsters without scruples, one can t help to admire They are playful, amusing, witty and skillful in the art of deception They are also vain, prideful creatures who seek their own pleasure without caring for the outcome of their poor victims.Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont are incredibly wealthy and bored to death So they play dangerous games for entertainment, imposing challenges to each other, seducing young virgins, making adulteress out of prude virtuous women, taking revenge of formers lovers ruining their reputation and they succeed in doing all the mischief they want without being discovered What s , they are honourable and well received in society Imagine their mirth when they accomplish every evil scheme they propose while they become their victims only friends and saviours.But apart from the elaborated style and the amusing display of strategic tactics which thread the story, one can t miss the allusion to the thin line of what s morally right or wrong Is what is socially accepted the true and only way Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont are not exemplary models of sincerity or frankness, but they challenge the imposed rules somehow, they outwit hypocrisy, the problem is that they only do it to achieve personal gratification, corrupting their souls and everyone who dares to trust in them.In my opinion, it s incredible that a novel writtenthan 180 years ago, might still stir deep emotions in those who can invest a moment of their time to think about the possible reasons that led a man like M de Laclos to write this controversial story.Don t take this novel only as a mere diversion, it s muchthan that It s about recognising that each of us has some of the Vicomte or of the Marquise in us, we are all vain and proud and think ourselves superior to the rest That s why I value this work, because it reminds us of what wretched and capricious creatures we humans can become


  8. Daniela Daniela says:

    Yesterday, as I was finishing this book, I thought I would give it four stars When I finished it I gave it five Today, I believe it might be the best book I ve read so far this year It is chiselled in my mind I keep telling everyone that they must read it Like Baudelaire said, it is a book that burns only as ice burns And it burns for a while.It is a story of intrigue where two aristocrats share their adventures by which I mean the seduction of virgins, the manipulation of married women Yesterday, as I was finishing this book, I thought I would give it four stars When I finished it I gave it five Today, I believe it might be the best book I ve read so far this year It is chiselled in my mind I keep telling everyone that they must read it Like Baudelaire said, it is a book that burns only as ice burns And it burns for a while.It is a story of intrigue where two aristocrats share their adventures by which I mean the seduction of virgins, the manipulation of married women and men, the search for pleasure in fascinating letters There are other letters it is an epistolary novel, after all but its beating heart are the exchanges between the Vincomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil However, I would argue that for the most part, Merteuil is the mind of the plot while Valmont is the heart and the body Many of the romantic and erotic exploits belong to him which is fitting because those are the elements that lead them to their doom.All 18th century novels, including the libertines , are moralizing in some ways, imparting, withor less success, a lesson or a range of ideas Dangerous Liaisonsfollows the suit but not as successfully as Voltaire, Diderot or Rousseau In fact, I would go as far as saying that Dangerous Liaisons fails as a prototype of the 18th century novel Its philosophy is dim, its message is unclear The reason Laclos was so widely criticized in his own time was because, unlike what happened with other Enlightened writers, the novel does not offer many clues as to his own opinions But these reasons are exactly what makes the novel so great, and much, muchthan a simple vehicle of enlightened ideas Laclos s characters are not only mouthpieces like Voltaire s or Rousseau s They have thoughts, personalities and inconsistencies, much like protagonists of good 19th century novels That is why Laclos could never be too moralizing To turn Valmont or Merteuil into examples, into messages, would be to diminish their potential as characters in a novel, and, ultimately, as people Valmont and Merteuil are monsters, but they re not only that Laclos allows the reader ample space to feel sympathy for them He punishes them yes, but he also punishes their victims who are sometimes blamed for having been so na ve or for having been allowed to be so na ve Hence the scandal in 18th century France it s not that Laclos could ve written these things, it s that he doesn t condemn them enough, and, perhaps his worst sin, he allows his characters to explain themselves, to have complex motivations Merteuil and feelings Valmont Yet another extraordinary aspect of this novel is the tight control that Laclos retains over his characters Every character has its own voice, every character acts in a way that is their own All these characters are muchinteresting than they shouldbe Dangerous Liaisons belongs, in many ways, to the 19th century It is a novel to read and re read as it contains thousands of elements that cannot be perceived in a first reading Go with care because it does burn as ice burns, because it s not a comfortable reading, and these are not comfortable characters But read it because this is the stuff good literature is made of


  9. Michael Finocchiaro Michael Finocchiaro says:

    One of my all time favourite books, Les Liaisons dangereuses is a tour de force written entirely in letters It is the only literature that nobleman Laclos every wrote but he hit a grand slam with this one Intrigue, sex, betrayal it is a gripping story told in the margins between the written word and the gaps between the letters Hard to describe without spoiling the pleasure of potential readers, suffice it to say that the movie as awesome as Uma and Close and Malkovich were in the 1988 fil One of my all time favourite books, Les Liaisons dangereuses is a tour de force written entirely in letters It is the only literature that nobleman Laclos every wrote but he hit a grand slam with this one Intrigue, sex, betrayal it is a gripping story told in the margins between the written word and the gaps between the letters Hard to describe without spoiling the pleasure of potential readers, suffice it to say that the movie as awesome as Uma and Close and Malkovich were in the 1988 film version is not even close to as exciting and gripping as the original


  10. Marquise Marquise says:

    Come back, my dear Vicomte, come backThus starts this tale of deceit and corruption through seduction, with a summons from the Marquise de Merteuil to her confidante and former lover, the Vicomte de Valmont.Unknown to Madame la Marquise, this seemingly innocuous petition will set the snowball in a downwards motion, because M le Vicomte is at present visiting his aunt, where he ll meet and become half obsessed and half enamoured with the virtuous and too melodramatic and hand wringiCome back, my dear Vicomte, come backThus starts this tale of deceit and corruption through seduction, with a summons from the Marquise de Merteuil to her confidante and former lover, the Vicomte de Valmont.Unknown to Madame la Marquise, this seemingly innocuous petition will set the snowball in a downwards motion, because M le Vicomte is at present visiting his aunt, where he ll meet and become half obsessed and half enamoured with the virtuous and too melodramatic and hand wringing Pr sidente de Tourvel, a beautiful married woman he wants to seduce, but who resists him.Valmont decides to not hurry up back to Paris as his former mistress wishes, and decides to share his devious plans for Madame de Tourvel with her by letter Unamused, the Marquise throws in a challenge, daring him to give sound proof of his success in seducing the devout woman, which seems doubtful according to her Pricked in his vanity, Valmont accepts the dare and makes use of all his tricks to get into the Pr sidente s good graces, going so far as faking piousness To no avail, because the woman is keeping correspondence with another lady that s aware of Valmont s ill reputation as one of the biggest rakes to afflict France, and her warnings have made her moderately wary of him But not so wary enough that she doesn t take enough precautions and little by little her resistance is eroded.Valmont, not to be trifled with, revenges himself on the gossipy confidante of Tourvel s by agreeing to Merteuil s proposal to seduce la petite Volanges, her daughter, which the Marchioness hopes to corrupt and convert into another woman like herself, a seductress On her part, she also undertakes the seduction of Danceny, the man she loves and that loves the girl in return It s a complicated love quadrangle that can be dizzying Valmont wants de Tourvel who loves Valmont who lusts for Merteuil who lusts for Danceny who lusts for C cile who lusts for Valmont But in this apparent tangle, there are only two players, the Queen de Merteuil and the King de Valmont, everybody else is a pawn And as pawns, they are moved across the chessboard and sacrificed on the players whim, with dire consequences for everyone Everyone is punished in this story in one way or another.I can see why the preferred character could be Valmont, in all his rakish glory But to me, the most interesting character has always been the Marquise de Merteuil since I first saw the film and read the book after, and on this reread, she s still the most compelling Female villains are thin on the ground, and female villains who are brilliant and on par with or superior to their male counterparts or allies are scarcer Both she and Valmont are self centred and often heartless, uninterested in anything but their pleasure and the amusement of their games and outwitting everyone for entertainment, regardless of who they may hurt But in some ways, she s better than Valmont, certainly brighter and amasterful player, and she has no illusions about human nature nor any desire to delude herself about deep emotions, like love, as Valmont does And, I am sure this will raise eyebrows, I find her actuallysympathetic than Valmont Yes, she s not supposed to incite any sympathies, as the cruel woman she truly is But here s the thing much of her acts are dictated by her womanhood Both she and Valmont are equally cruel, equally decadent, equal libertines, equally in love with themselves, they share the same principles and ideas, the same cynicism, etc And yet, only Merteuil is forced to be a hypocrite in addition to all that, only she has to feign to be caring and virtuous, only she has to worry about her reputation and defend her virtue, only she has to put up with the old matrons for the sake of her social standing You know why Because she s a woman, and a woman cannot be allowed to be a libertine and to enjoy sex and dalliances like a man Just look at Valmont Everyone knows he s a seducer, both men and women know he s perpetually going after bedsport, he doesn t have to hide it and pretend, and although the high society may be divided amongst those who want to taste him and those who want to dump him in a lake, he isn t shunned by society, he s received at the homes of the nobility, even at the home of people who despise him due to his rogue ways, like Madame de Volanges Why Because he s a man, he s noble, he has money In the words of Madame de Volanges, she cannot afford to show him the door A man can sleep round all he wants, and he won t be condemned Au contraire, the rakish reputation may even give him an air of enticing danger and forbidden fruit in the eyes of the ladies.Indeed, the only difference between Merteuil and Valmont is their gender She has to be a hypocrite in order to enjoy life as she wants, she has to bow down to social norms imposed on women and manoeuvre within these restrictions, or lose all She plays a game of deception on three fronts before the women, before the men who want to seduce and use her and before the men she wants to use and seduce Valmont doesn t even have to bother The author has him state this fact in a letter to the Marquise Whereas you, wielding skilfully the weapons of your sex, triumph by subtlety, I, rendering his imprescriptible rights to man, subjugated by authority.That s the touch of tragedy for Merteuil She s truly intelligent,so than the average man, and certainlyobservant and a keener connoisseur of human nature, its foibles and the subtlety of emotions than Valmont She self educated alone, studied on her own and perfected her art on her own thanks only to her bright mind, curiosity, and powers of observation, and it s a real waste that she had to focus her brilliance on evil when such a mind could ve been put to better use Boredom, combined with her desire to enjoy her dissolute ways and not be subjugated to any man she never remarried for that reason leads her to become as she is And, although both she and Valmont are duly given their just deserts in the end, one cannot shake off the uncomfortable feeling that the Marquise was punished extra as happens with women who dare colour outside the lines Valmont can find some redemption of sorts by his last breath deeds, but she s utterly destroyed in life in a way that targets her womanly weapons specifically, her beauty for one And when the scandal explodes on her letters becoming known, she s reviled for ruining a man that had been betting on sleeping with her to ruin her reputation socially, who s promptly reinstated to his former post and even applauded publicly for that She s the one vilifiedthan Valmont, who s as guilty and in some ways evenas it was him who insisted in the course that ultimately had fatal consequences, against the Marquise s warnings, because of his vanity It s she who first says they should part ways once she realises Tourvel has enslaved him, because two sharpers cannot win and have to divide winnings and part ways amiably, and he doesn t listen out of pride.To me, she s simply amongst the best villainess heroines in literature