Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Les Liaisons dangereuses” as Want to Read:
Les Liaisons dangereuses
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Les Liaisons dangereuses

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  32,133 Ratings  ·  986 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, Oxford World's Classics, 448 pages
Published March 18th 1999 by Oxford University Press (first published March 23rd 1782)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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 and
Sep 20, 2016 William1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely magnificent novel! To think that it was published in 1782, seven years before the French Revolution. Liberté égalité fraternité! It 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 ...more
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
Jan 30, 2015 Dolors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 19, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: classics, 1001-core
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
Come back, my dear Vicomte, come back.

Thus 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 Prési
Sep 19, 2007 Tessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Feb 28, 2013 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 23, 2015 Yann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
C'est vraiment très bon!

Illustrations par Georges Barbier (merci Book Portrait!)
(view spoiler)
Dec 09, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys a good 18th century scandal ;)
Recommended to Anne by: Marquise
I love this book to distraction. Quite literally. It has almost exclusively occupied my every thought ever since I started it, and undoubtedly wins the Book That Has Affected Me The Most in 2015.

Simply put, it is wonderfully twisty, delightfully witty and shockingly scandalous. It will make you laugh, sigh, wonder, exclaim, and, if you're anything like me, hold you under its spell for a long time.

Set in 18th century France before the Revolution and written in epistolary form, Les Liaisons dang
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
Oct 19, 2012 Sketchbook rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 23, 2016 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
What a deliciously wicked story.

This dramatisation from the cast of the Donmar production is worth listening to for Janet McTeer alone. Her Marquise de Merteuil was incredible. Sensual, scathing, scandalous. If you are new to Laclos, this is a great place to start. I read an English translation many years ago and loved it, but this version brought it to life for me. It has left me wanting to read the original, and i'll be purchasing it after finishing the review (yes, i'm THAT enthused).

It seems
Apr 14, 2015 Camille rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oubliez les théories et vos cours de lettres du lycée : j'ai compris le fin mot de la littérature. En fait, un bon livre, c'est comme une bonne paire de chaussures.

- Le bon livre, comme la bonne paire de chaussures, est agréable à regarder : il a du style et de jolis couleurs ; on retrouve une atmosphère dans l'entrelacement de ses motifs, et on finit par ne plus pouvoir s'en passer.

- Le bon livre, comme la bonne paire de chaussures, ne s'use pas avec le temps : non seulement c'était formidable
Jan 12, 2008 Leena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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
Philippe Malzieu
Oct 14, 2015 Philippe Malzieu rated it it was amazing
"Fragonard amoureux" Exhibition at Luxembourg Museum Paris.

Everyone knows Fragonard and his gallant paintings. The exhibition is splendid. A firework of pleasure and sensuality. The force of Jean-Honore is that he never was vulgar. No pornography as we can see in others painter's work of this time. All is suggested, in particular with the pillows or thwarts. A remark of the conservative intrigued me. Starting from 1770, Jean-Honore gives up the libertinage as model for inspiration. Happiness is
Maria Thomarey
Nov 21, 2015 Maria Thomarey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Υπέροχη πλοκή , εξαιρετικοί χαρακτηρες , ζηλευτά γράμματα . Και όχι δεν είναι ηθικοπλαστικό ανάγνωσμα .
Mar 24, 2007 Mikey rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Mar 31, 2009 Catherine rated it liked it
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
Apr 25, 2012 Amandine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This was a free download from Audible read by the cast of the stage play (Edit: I guess that's obvious from the subtitle of the book above). If you have a couple hours of free time to listen, I recommend this one.

The Marquise de Merteuil, despite her virtuous reputation, has used and discarded many men in her day, and she takes it lightly when one of her lovers gives her up for another woman. When she learns that a former lover intends to marry Cécile de Volanges, fifteen-year-old convent-educat
Serena.. Sery-ously?
L’umanità non è perfetta in nessun caso, né nel male né nel bene. Il malvagio ha le sue virtù come l’onesto ha le sue debolezze.

Romanzo epistolare?? MEEEEEEEH!
Personaggi cretini e innamoramenti lampo?? Per carità, piuttosto strappatemi gli occhi!

Eppure.. Cinque stelle, ebook nella cartella dei Best e copia cartacea ordinata :3
Il merito della riuscita del romanzo va sicuramente alla formidabile coppia Visconte di Valmont/Marchesa de Merteuil che ho amato tantissimo!
Ora: mi rendo conto di quanto c
Lolly's Library (Dork Kettle)
I read this book many years ago, back when I was still a teenager (and therefore pretentious, which has nothing to do with this particular book, just a random statement of fact). I think I tried reading the book right after the movie came out in February of '89, but as I was only eleven years old at the time, the subject matter was a bit too heavy. Hell, it took a few more years and repeated viewings before I began understanding all the nuances and hidden venom within the film, so the language o ...more
Is it just me, or does one not typically think "tense, tightly-plotted psychological drama" when discussing 18th century epistolary novels? And where can I get myself more of these?!

My favorite villains are the ones I hate to love, and I really hate how much I love the Viscomte Valmont and especially Madame de Merteuil. They are charming and devious, they don't give a crap about traditions or conventions, and are so, so very perfect for each other--except, of course, they aren't. Merteuil, in pa
Apr 21, 2008 Nibelheim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classiques
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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Persian Letters
  • Julie, or the New Heloise
  • The Black Sheep
  • The Nun
  • The Princesse de Clèves
  • Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart, #9)
  • Manon Lescaut
  • Love in Excess
  • Pierre et Jean
  • Camilla
  • The Heptameron
  • La Vie de Marianne
  • Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
  • The Charterhouse of Parma
  • Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
  • La confession d'un enfant du siècle
  • Les Diaboliques
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-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos...

Share This Book

“When one woman strikes at the heart of another, she seldom misses, and the wound is invariably fatal.” 168 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.” 80 likes
More quotes…