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Dangerous Liaisons

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  42,697 ratings  ·  1,481 reviews
Published in 1782, just years before the French Revolution, Les Liaisons Dangereuses is a disturbing and ultimately damning portrayal of a decadent society. At its centre are two aristocrats, former lovers, who embark on a sophisticated game of seduction and manipulation to bring amusement to their jaded existences. While the Marquise de Merteuil challenges the Vicomte de ...more
Paperback, 418 pages
Published February 22nd 2007 by Penguin Classics (first published March 24th 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)
Ellen By the end of the story, none of the letters are meaningless. They all fill a particular place, even if it is just character development. I would love…moreBy the end of the story, none of the letters are meaningless. They all fill a particular place, even if it is just character development. I would love to know your opinion after you finish reading the book!(less)

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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
...more
Adina
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
...more
WILLIAM2
Apr 16, 2012 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
Lisa
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 much more personal 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
...more
Michelle
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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 no more difficult than following a very long Facebook conversation thread (even better if ...more
Manny
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
...more
Dolors
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Daniela
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
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 ...more
Marquise
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-wringi
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Anne
May 06, 2013 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
...more
Rowena
Oct 03, 2012 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
...more
Edward
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dangerous Liaisons is a story of intrigue and sexual manipulation, set during the height of French aristocratic decadence. It is said that the novel, by drawing attention to the moral corruption of the upper classes, was actually a contributing cause of the French Revolution. The novel also highlights the severe imbalance between the sexes, derived from their difference in moral standing. Whereas a scandal would be utterly devastating for a woman, it could be borne by a man with little permanent ...more
Lady
Sep 16, 2007 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
Alex
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
E. G.
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Chronology
Introduction
Further Reading
Translator's Note


--Dangerous Liaisons

Appendix 1: Additional Letters
Appendix 2: Selected Adaptations of 'Dangerous Liaisons'
Notes
MJ Nicholls
Jun 10, 2012 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
Sketchbook
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 a
...more
Parthiban Sekar
An Excellent work on human malice. The protagonist "Marquise de Merteuil" can't be any more wretched and brilliant at the same time.

Marquise De Merteuil: When I came out into society I was 15. I already knew then that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest to me, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I lea
...more
Emma
Feb 23, 2016 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
...more
Gabrielle
A literary tour-de-force, this book is a magnificent, perverse story of manipulation, seduction, betrayal and deceit. Published a few years before the French Revolution, Laclos allegedly meant it as a slap to the face of the decadent aristocracy, their abuse of position and power, their immoral and depraved conduct and hypocrisy.

Told in a clever epistolary format, this is the story of an intrigue instigated by the bored Marquise de Merteuil; a former lover, the Comte de Gercourt is to marry a yo
...more
Marc
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most intruiging early novels (end of the 18th C.). The construction of the story is utterly sublime, as an epistolary novel with letters going back and forth between the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont (both amoral, narcistic personalities), full of mirror effects and hidden parallels.

The originality of this work is that this is one of the first novels in history in which words and language are used in a very perverse way (it set the mark for thousands of other
...more
Leena
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Mikey
Mar 24, 2007 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
Fede
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this epistolary novel is like having a panic attack in a mirror maze.
You feel trapped, lost in the logic of a game so wicked and twisted that no player is ever supposed to win more than he loses. A cruel chess game in which the pieces are the players themselves - mercilessly, cold-bloodedly moving each other.

Paris, last decades of the 'ancien régime' and its magnificent, triumphant amorality.
The Marquise de Merteuil is certainly not the kind of woman who cries over a lost lover. She i
...more
Philippe Malzieu
"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
...more
Campbell
What a novel! Never have I come across one, as far as I can recall, that so precisely understands the workings of thought processes, what motivates people and demonstrates how, given that understanding, people can be cynically manipulated to fulfill the wishes of others.

Also the Vicomte de Valmont is a fantastic character whose ability to take revenge knows few, if any, equals (Edmond Dantes, perhaps).
Justine
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
4.5 stars

This book has been on my TBR for 6 years!! 6 YEARS!!! shame *Game of Thrones style*

One of my best friends studied this book for her thesis last year, so I had to read this book eventually! And, closing it, I was a bit troubled.

First: I love epistolary novels, so I knew I would love the format for sure! I rarely read this genre now, but I still love it, this book confirmed it!

Then, I loved the first part, because I loved Merteuil and Valmont. They are witty, intelligent, sassy, and qu
...more
Luís
I've had and highly appreciated the reading of the Dangerous Liaisons. The opportunity presented itself to discover more about this author that is Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.
"Women and their education" consists in fact of three texts, written independently, unfinished, but grouped by their common subject: the woman.
The first text is the outline of a provocative speech in response to a question posed by the Châlons-sur-Marne Academy: "What would be the best ways to improve women's education?" His
...more
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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

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