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.
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 ,,1782, 1825, 19, ,,, , , ,, ,,,, , 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.
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
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 Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil However, I would argue that for the greater part of the novel 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 of 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.
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 When you rate a book, do you consider the introduction written by a different person , appendices, blurbs and entries in Wikipedia I mean do you consider the historical background of the story the life story of the author it s impact to whatever since its first publication Or you ignore all of them and just rate the story as if you do not know anything about those Two schools of thought I know some people just read and then rate the story only I know some who read not only the whole book but everything interesting about it aside from what is provided in their book s edition.
I belong to the second one and this is one of the reasons why I like historical, biographical or biblical fictions.
That is also the reason why I am giving this book, Les Liaisons dangereuses Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos first published as a book in 1782 , a 4 star rating I really liked it.
There is almost nothing to like about the story if you read it from the perspective of a 21st century reader.
The despicable, cunning, conniving, wicked, inutile, gullible characters are definitely not new to any of us, regular fiction readers We all know those from the myriad of characters in novels and other forms of literature The epistolary form of storytelling is not new to me too Think 84, Charing Cross Road or Clarissa A novel originally written in beautiful language like French is common now.
But check this novel s history 1 Laclos 1741 1803 wrote this to depict the corrupt and squalid nobility of Ancien Regime the life of the royalty, kings, queens and their court members and aristocrats before the French Revolution 1789 1799.
2 Laclos was a military man and this was his only famous never out of print since it was first published and has been translated into several languages novel.
3 Laclos wrote this while there was an on going war and he was allowed to spend time writing this instead of manning his post as a general.
4 Prior to writing this novel, Laclos had planned to come up with a workthat departs from ordinary, creates a lot of noise, and will remain on earth even after his deathThis book obviously achieved all those for him Forthan 2 centuries, people are still reading this book and not few have this in their top 10 favorite novels Check Top 10 Novels by your favorite authors here For example, Emma Donoghue listed this book as her no 7 among her Top 10 I said almost because I liked and enjoyed the following A The poetic even though lengthy way the characters express themselves in the letters I think the fact that it was originally written in French, which I have no knowledge of, affected the prose now that it is in English It is flowery and vague at times but I find it strangely different, thus interesting, compared the standard style of our contemporary novelists.
B The cunning and despicable characters are so dubious and evil that I was full of hatred while reading Reminded me of the libertines in Marquise de Sade s 120 Days of Sodom Now that I know that the authors , i.
, De Sade and now Laclos, only intention was to show the excesses of the royal people, then I already know that there is nothing to react violently on.
C The imagination of De Laclos and the way he interwove the lives of the characters were just awesome The changing of the hearts, the treachery, the turning of the tables, e.
, those wicked characters either died or disappeared in the end, just got me hooked and pushed me to finish reading all the 175 long letters.
I just feel happy having read this book Now I just don t rely my knowledge of this work on the two movie adaptations I have read the real stuff and not many of readers nowadays have the patience to read and appreciate a classic though archaic work like this Thank you to my reading buddy Regine for not giving up on me and Laclos I have to admit that I thought of dropping this book when we were halfway but she said that she would go on and so I just continued I am happy I did.