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Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) - Choderlos De Laclos

Related: 1700s literature - epistolary novel - libertine novel - Choderlos De Laclos

Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) - Choderlos De Laclos [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons) is a famous French epistolary novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, first published in 1782.

The book fascinates with its dark undertones. It is the story of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two rivals who use sex as a weapon to humiliate and degrade others, all the while enjoying their cruel games. It also depicts the decadence of the French aristocracy shortly before the French Revolution; thus it is seen as a work that exposes the perversions of the so-called Ancien Régime.

The book is an epistolary novel, composed entirely of letters written by the various characters to each other. Especially the letters between Valmont and the Marquise set up the story, but those of other characters serve as illustrations and give the story its depth.

The novel has been translated into English many times, with Douglas Parmée's recent translation (Oxford: OUP, 1995) generally being the preferred version. It is the origin of the saying "Revenge is a dish best served cold", a paraphrased translation of Laclos's "La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid.". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Liaisons_Dangereuses [Jan 2006]

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.--from the publisher

Revenge is a dish best served cold
Revenge is a dish best served cold. - pointing to the ellaborated planning of some revenges. The earliest well-known example of this proverb in print is "La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid" from the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) by Pierre Ambroise Francois Choderios de LaClos. The saying exists in many cultures, including Sicilian, Spanish and Pashtun, making its ultimate origin difficult to determine. The modern English wording is attributed to Dorothy Parker. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revenge [Aug 2004]

Dangerous Liaisons (1988) - Stephen Frears

  • Dangerous Liaisons (1988) - Stephen Frears [Amazon.com]
    A sumptuously mounted and photographed celebration of artful wickedness, betrayal, and sexual intrigue among depraved 18th-century French aristocrats, Dangerous Liaisons (based on Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses) is seductively decadent fun. The villainous heroes are the Marquise De Merteuil (Glenn Close) and the Vicomte De Valmont (John Malkovich), who have cultivated their mutual cynicism into a highly developed and exquisitely mannered form of (in-)human expression. Former lovers, they now fancy themselves rather like demigods whose mutual desires have evolved beyond the crudeness of sex or emotion. They ritualistically act out their twisted affections by engaging in elaborate conspiracies to destroy the lives of their less calculating acquaintances, daring each other to ever-more-dastardly acts of manipulation and betrayal. Why? Just because they can; it's their perverted way of getting get their kicks in a dead-end, pre-Revolutionary culture. Among their voluptuous and virtuous prey are fair-haired angels played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman, who have never looked more ripe for ravishing. When the Vicomte finds himself beset by bewilderingly genuine emotions for one of his victims, the Marquise considers it the ultimate betrayal and plots her heartless revenge. Dangerous Liaisons is a high-mannered revel for the actors, who also include Swoosie Kurtz, Mildred Natwick, and Keanu Reeves. --Jim Emerson for amazon.com

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