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Dangerous Liaisons

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  46,219 ratings  ·  1,769 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)
Sophie En vérité, c'est assez compliqué pour une personne dont la langue maternelle n'est pas le français, le vocabulaire n'est souvent pas facile même pour …moreEn vérité, c'est assez compliqué pour une personne dont la langue maternelle n'est pas le français, le vocabulaire n'est souvent pas facile même pour un natif, mais si on essaye vraiment on peut arriver à comprendre la plupart des lettres. L'idée générale au moins. Des verbes peuvent être conjugués à des temps compliqués, et il y a énormément de sous-entendu. Il y a aussi des mots qui ne sont plus employé de nos jours.(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
Daniela
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yesterday, as I was finishing this book, I thought I was going to 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 marrie
...more
Luís
Subtle.
This work is a clinical study of libertines, libertinism and vice-like virtue. A reflection served by a sumptuous text and superb language.
A lot of subtlety in the text's nuances makes this prose a peak in the profusion of details and intensity.
There was a strong feeling the era, and its atmosphere radiates.
Come to think of it; it is above all an essay on human nature, games, passion, cunning and jousting.
By dint of simulating war, we end up waging it.
By manipulating and calculating, we d
...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
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
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
Nika
Jul 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, french-lit
The whole story is related through a series of letters. For the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil, the two arch intriguers, limits do not exist. Merteuil and Valmont play with the bodies and souls of others as if they were playing with puppets. They produce a vicious circle and seem not to care how many people will fall victim to their intrigues.
In the end, all their efforts are wasted on them, carefully crafted plans destroyed, and the lives of all five protagonists ruined.

There
...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: 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
...more
~Jo~
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
It turns out, Dangerous Liaisons was not as dangerous, as one may have hoped. This was in fact, repetitive, and really rather dull. I'll admit, I bought this in the hope of it being an erotic adventure, rather like Lady Chatterley's Lover, but I feel in this case, they were in totally different leagues.

This book is set out in a series of letters, and those letters are very samey. Yes, they were somewhat scandalous, but absolutely nothing changed throughout those letters. The other characters see
...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
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
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
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
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
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
...more
Simona B
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1700, in-french
4.5

"Je n'avais à moi que ma pensée, et je m'indignais qu'on pût me la ravir ou me la surprendre contre ma volonté.... dès ce moment, ma façon de penser fut pour moi seule."


"My thoughts were the only things that belonged to me and I felt indignant that someone might snatch them from me or detect them against my will.... From that time onward, I was in complete command of my thoughts." (Translation by Douglas Parmée, Oxford University Press)


What is absolutely stunning about this epistolary novel i
...more
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
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
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
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
Madeline
I knew going into this novel that it was written as a collection of letters exchanged between the principal characters. I also knew that this was a trope that I, historically, have not had the best time with - see Dracula and Where'd You Go, Bernadette. I knew there was a risk of this feeling like a bit of a slog.

I was not prepared for 400 pages of, yes, just letters. And I know that's the point of the book, that we're hearing all of this secondhand gossip - and if nothing else, Laclos's novel
...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
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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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