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Les Liaisons Dangereuses

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  25,598 ratings  ·  701 reviews
The complex moral ambiguities of seduction and revenge make Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) one 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 ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 18th 1999 by Oxford University Press (first published 1782)
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Letitia I'm taking a class on this book with Professor Arnold Weinstein and he recommends the 1961 P.W.K. Stone translation. I am reading it right now (had to…moreI'm taking a class on this book with Professor Arnold Weinstein and he recommends the 1961 P.W.K. Stone translation. I am reading it right now (had to buy the paperback off Amazon as this translation is not available on Kindle). Compared to the few other versions I briefly skimmed, I found Stone's language more elegant and nuanced, and he leaves meticulous notes to help you understand the historical context. But if you're looking for no-frills, modern directness then this may not be the version for you.(less)
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Best French Literature
12th out of 581 books — 1,080 voters
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan SwiftRobinson Crusoe by Daniel DefoeCandide by VoltaireThe Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheLes Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Best Books of the 18th Century
5th out of 145 books — 577 voters

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Community Reviews

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Letter 94. Viscomte de Rayner to the Goodreads Community

This 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 Cécile's role in the story, and I trust I shall hear no more from the vile creature. But, none the less, I am grateful to her, since she reminded me that I should read it in the
Bill  Kerwin

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 are
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 19, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, classics
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
Tessa Concepcion
I'm amazed, these two principal characters that are the very incarnations of malice have incredibly salient and correct anecdotes about love and the beauty of sex considering they use it to humiliate others. While the woman (Merteuil) is an expert in deciphering and deconstructing human emotions and its repercussions, Valmont is a virtuoso of reading human reactions even in the slightest form of subtle and heavily-attempted hidden gestures; which enables him to translate it to the emotions of hi ...more
An absolutely magnificent novel! To think that it was published in 1782, seven years before the French Revolution. Liberté, égalité, fraternité! It has thus been argued that the novel 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 even now. I've read it twice then bought this gorgeous Folio Society edition to ...more
This is one of the most intriguing classics I’ve read in a long time. At first glance it didn’t seem to me as though a book that consists entirely of series of letters written between various people would be interesting, but this was the 18th Century, when letter-writing among the French aristocracy was obviously an art form so each letter is written in beautiful language with such detail and emotion, each with the unique tone of its author.

At the centre of this novel are the main characters, th
MJ Nicholls
Jun 13, 2012 MJ Nicholls marked it as dropped  ·  review of another edition
If I were the sort of boner who ran a creative writing night class I might level that grievous accusation at this Gallic favourite—how it “tells” everything and doesn’t “show.” And if you were a frightfully witty sort, you may reply: “Duh. It’s written in letters.” And such a Daria-strength comeback would be entirely appropriate: this is an epistolary novel where effusive aristocrats compose long-winded letters about their schemes and feelings and dire circumstances, with little for the reader t ...more
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
Only a country like France, which takes sex seriously with a smile, as
Britain does snobbery with a snoot, could produce this ironic
novel. (Laclos withdrew following his unsettling classic of sexual manners, 1782). Valmont-Merteuil reign high on my list of literary favs. Overbred, overindulged, the ex-lovers become sexual conspirators after tossing other partners. Sex for them is an intrigue of shared espionage.

Urbane, amusing, they strike a cynical assault on society.
The psychological rewards ar
Further Reading
Translator's Note

--Dangerous Liaisons

Appendix 1: Additional Letters
Appendix 2: Selected Adaptations of 'Dangerous Liaisons'
The 18th century is a tough nut to crack. Its most famous books are boring. It's an explosively smutty era, but even most of the smut isn't that great. But there are a few weird gems that slip through the cracks: the furious Candide; the sensational Monk; and the masterpiece of smut Dangerous Liaisons.

Epistolaries were big back then, and LaClos makes better use of letters than anyone since Shakespeare; it'll take Wilkie Collins to match him. The letters are the plot, making this metafiction; the
Mar 24, 2007 Mikey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fiction
Aside from the fact that Les Liaisons Dangereuses has a tight, efficient plot and well-constructed characters, what's most impressive about it is how well it works as an actual epistolary novel. Instead of Clarissa writing for 18 hours a day, what we have hear are short (1-2 pages, sometimes less) letters, of the length that people might actually write to one another, and multiple correspondences, in order to keep the story fresh and told from multiple perspectives. In addition, the letters beco ...more
I wonder, if I had read this book when I was 21 instead of 31, would I have saved myself a good deal of grief concerning relationships? This book masterfully exposes every kind of grief there is. But, I think that like the innocent characters in the book, I wouldn't have understood it at the time.

When attempting to navigate love, one always messes up somewhere. Some of us stomp around like... a yeti, lol. While others are deft and cruel. Toss both these sorts of people together into a restricti
Ma révélation, « mon » chef-d’œuvre, mon trésor, l’œuvre qui m’a marquée à tout jamais et dont aucune autre n’a pu prendre la place dans mon estime littéraire. Chaque lecture est pour moi une nouvelle découverte, un nouvel enchantement, et suscite une admiration toujours grandissante de ma part. Même en connaissant chaque détail de l’intrigue et de son déroulement, c’est toujours un véritable plaisir de relire cette œuvre. Je considère ce roman comme le meilleur roman épistolaire que j’aie lu, e ...more
Having read this and seen two film versions, I have to say I'm disappointed by society's response to the Marquise de Marteuil's role in the events. She is vilified while the Vicomte de Valmont, who is just as guilty, is forgiven apparently because he confesses all just before his death following a duel. What makes the Marquise's guilt so great that she is shunned in society and eventually has to leave the country? She encouraged certain events but in the end did not cause them--that was for Valm ...more
David Lentz
I think it was Kierkegaard who advised to be aware of entangling alliances. The web of sin in this book is masterfully woven as letters to frame-up an epistolary novel in which each character's letters speak volumes about the characters themselves. The novel was written in the same period as Rousseau in the Napoleonic era, when the novel as a genre was relatively young. Valmont is the penultimate anti-hero and knave who finds decadent pleasure in conquering, as if it were a military campaign, an ...more
C'est vraiment très bon!

Illustrations par Georges Barbier (merci Book Portrait!)
(view spoiler)
Ce livre de Choderlos de Laclos est devenu un grand nom de la littéraire française et a eu une postérité très riche : influences diverses, adaptations filmées, pièces de théâtre, … Etrange destin que celui de cette œuvre littéraire, considérée comme le chef d’œuvre de son auteur en dépit de ses autres écrits qui, eux, n’ont pas du tout marqué l’histoire littéraire.

J’avais découvert Les liaisons dangereuses - et par la même occasion l’adaptation filmée de Stephen Frears, que je vous recommande -
Feb 03, 2013 Karla marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karla by: Sarah
DNF. Not because it was bad, but because I didn't feel I was getting anything "extra" out of it that the 1988 movie didn't show. It's an amazingly faithful adaptation and I'm content with leaving it at that.

Valmont's and de Tourvel's letters to each other were pretty dull, however. The same thing over and over. Her breaking down is so incremental that I could barely see it. The Valmont/de Merteuil correspondence was much more consistently interesting - except the Prevan digressions. Probably if
Whenever Hollywood attempts to do a "modern" adaptation of classic literature by throwing together a caste of up-and-coming teenage hearthrobs, it's usually a fail. Great Expectations starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow: Fail. Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Daines: Fail. O starring Leelee Sobieski and Josh Hartnett: Let's make that a double Shakespeare Fail.

However, reading Les Liaisons Dangereusesmakes me appreciate the artistry, yes the artistry that went int
I bought this for my Kindle after having seen the movie. I have to say, as much as I loved the movie, it's amazing how much is lost without the epistolary element; the way Laclos juxtaposes things -- Valmont's manipulative letters to Danceny's ardent ones, Merteuil's accusations against Prevan to what Valmont actually does to Cecile -- is something that one misses when the letters are taken out of the mix. If there is one flaw to the book it is the heavy handed way in which Valmont finally achie ...more
Early modern French aristocratic sexual politics. Should be read in conjunction with 120 Days of Sodom, on the one hand, and Madame Bovary, on the other. There’s some overlap of Valmont with the four principals of the former and Boulanger of the latter, except here, with Valmont, the interior is present, rather than implicit. Thorough readers might benefit from a close and labor-intensive comparison.

No need for that here. Suffice to say that Valmont, even merely on the exterior, is a horrible ra
The French Revolution makes so much more sense now.

Seriously, these people had WAY too much time on their hands. So much leisure time, that they had to create drama where there was none. And it wasn't really fun unless you totally ruined someone's life. Wow...bring it on, Madame Defarge. I only wish the Scarlet Pimpernel saved less of them.

I did truly enjoy the book. It has been several years since I have seen the movie, but I was surprised how vividly it returned to my mind as I was reading t
This epistolary novel is probably more familiar to movie viewers, a number of films having been based upon it, than it is to readers. Yet, as is often the case, the book is far richer and more profound than any film of which I am aware. The work is fascinating and addresses a number of issues important to modern readers, even if the art of traditional letter writing has given way, by and large, to emails, text messaging, and other electronic media. Of enduring importance are the issues of veraci ...more
Putting aside for a moment what deliciously wicked fun it is to read Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's Les liaisons dangereuses—putting aside as well its surprisingly thoughtful politics, its oddly affecting final tragedy, and the glorious character it offers in the Marquise de Merteuil—to me the most fascinating aspect of this 1782 novel of scheming French aristocrats is its pitch-perfect use of the epistolary form. I have read quite a few epistolary novels, and the letter-centric format has usually ...more
I have to say I'm kind of surprised by the display of scandal and sexual suggestions in a book published in 1782! I'm sure it was banned at some point. Interesting turn by the author to write using the epistolary format.
The Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont are very devious minded characters, leaving me at times disgusted by their display of selfishness and evil. They wanted revenge and in doing so they would not stop at anything to get it. They knew what they were doing and they
Barbara Domue
i just finished this book last night. i laughed out loud so many times on the subway that people must think i'm crazy. it is so slimy, and paints such a grotesque picture of this time, and all in the language of jane austen. there is this formality that is so funny because of the horrible content of the letters in this book. i am on my way to watch the movie as soon as i can.
Damon Suede
The greatest novel of Ancien Régime libertinage ever written. Dazzling, dark, and poisonous. If you've only seen the limp Oscar-winning American film and enjoyed it you're in for a real treat. Mind-bendingly sadistic (Sade was imprisoned just down the hall from de Laclos, btw) and devsastatingly romantic.

In diesem Briefroman aus dem 18. Jahrhundert geht es heiß her. Liebe, Tod, Intrigen, und natürlich so einige Affairen... Die Marquise Merteuil stachelt ihren ehemaligen Geliebten Valmont an, den Ruf und die Unschuld der Verlobten des Mannes zu ruinieren, der sie kürzlich verlassen hat. Der wiederum ist aber vollauf damit ausgelastet, eine tugendhafte Ehefrau zu verführen, die sich ihm gegenüber spröde gibt.
Das Beziehungsgeflecht wird immer verwickelter und immer mehr Intrigen werden gesponnen.

Quando foi originalmente publicado, em 1782 (antes da Revolução Francesa, portanto), este livro foi considerado escandaloso pela sua natureza sensual e pelo caráter manipulativo e degradante dos protagonistas, representantes da aristocracia francesa.

O livro está escrito na forma epistolar, ou seja, a história é contada exclusivamente através de cartas, trocadas dentro de um grupo de nobres, em que os protanistas são o Visconde Valmont e a Marquesa de Merteuil: ele, um sedutor incorrigível, começ
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Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos was a French novelist, official and army general, best known for writing the epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses.

A unique case in French literature, he was for a long time considered to be as scandalous a writer as the Marquis de Sade or Nicolas-Edme Rétif. He was a military officer with no illusions about human relations, and an amateur writer; h
More about Pierre Choderlos de Laclos...
Опасные связи. Манон Леско De l'éducation des femmes Choderlos de Laclos : Oeuvres complètes Dangerous Liaisons (Illustrated): Les Liaisons dangereuses Ohtlikud suhted

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“When one woman strikes at the heart of another, she seldom misses, and the wound is invariably fatal.” 154 likes
“Truth to tell, the longer I live, the more I'm tempted to think that the only moderately worthwhile people in the world are you and I.” 63 likes
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