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Dangerous Liaisons (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 26 Feb 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (26 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140624481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140624489
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 545,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

"If this book burns, it burns as only ice can burn." -Baudelaire --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Pierre Ambrose Francois Choderlos De Laclos was born in 1741, in Amiens. His family was respectable but not distinguished, and at eighteen he entered the army and spent the next twenty years in various garrison towns, and reached the rank of capitaine-commandant without ever seeing battle. He cut a dash in provincial society, however, and in his spare time wrote light verse, some of which was published. In 1779 he was sent to the island of Aix, off La Rochelle, where Les Liaisons Dangereuses was conceived and written. He went to Paris in 1781 to supervise the publishing of his book, overstayed his leave and was promptly ordered back to his regiment. He married Marie-Solange Duperre in 1786 and proved to be an exemplary husband and father. He lfet the army in 1788, entering politics, and was imprisoned twice during the Reign of Terros, but returned to the army as a general under Napoleon in 1800. He died in Italy in 1803. Laclos also wrote a treatise on the education of women and on Vauban. Towards the end of his life he was considering writing another one to show that true happiness could only be attained in family life.


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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
Penguin here give us a new translation of Dangerous Liasions that is very good. M Laclos apparently said that he wanted to write a book that would stand out and cause a stir after he was dead. I suspect that he didn't expect people to be avidly reading it over 200 years later and still enjoying it.

What Laclos gives us is a story in the epistolary form of what happens when people are rich and titled and have become bored, looking for new ways to entertain themsleves; much as the Marquis de Sade wrote about. Two people a man and a woman, go about taking people's virginity, causing a stir and scandal amongst others, in an attempt to outdo each other. Of course things don't always run smoothly between these two people, with disastrous results.

Although this book was written in the eighteenth century it still carries a resonance in todays world. There are people out there who take advantage of others and play games like those in this book, with no idea or care of the trouble they cause, and that is why this book has remained so popular. Laclos did more than write a book of his times but did something special, he wrote a book for all times.

Be warned this book will shock you and make you laugh, due to its darkly black humour, but you will not be able to stop yourself from reading it cover to cover, and re-reading it again and again. This a definite must have for any bookcase.
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I first read "Dangerous Liaisons" as a set text for an Open University course. "Oh dear! France in the 18th. century. Ah well - needs must!" After the first 2 or 3 letters - wow! Read it on the Underground going to work. Read it in coffee break. Read it when I should have been working. Read it in bed. What a wonderful account of two dissolute, amoral, exploitive, over-privileged, self-regarding French aristos, devoting their idle, pointless lives to the destruction of others' reputations. They even exploit and involve their own servants in their pathetic schemes. You find yourself hoping that the Marquise and the Viconte ended up "looking out of the Republican window" when the French Revolution rounded up their ilk. The writing style is inevitably ornate by modern standards, with some sentences the length of Guardian leader columns - but you get used to it. I think that in this edition, the translator has attempted to render some of the 18th. century French idiom into its modern English equivalent. Hey - there's maybe an Open University Ph.D degree in that!
An afterthought - surely the book is way, way better than any film that could be made of it?
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Although this book represents a historical period from the past, which is the french aristocracy a few years before the french revolution, I believe Dangerous Liaisons is still of actuality. After all, libertinism is still popular in high circles of society, whether political or artistic such as Hollywood, while adultery, cruelty and manipulations are weapons still used by several couples and certain people, in all circles of society, whether they are rich or poor. For the success of Dangerous Liaisons is not only due to its excellent representation of the french aristocracy, but it is also a masterpiece of storytelling where several characters fall into a pit of vengeance, lust and cruelty, which Madame de Merteuil, a powerful but dangerous Marquise, employs as she pulls the strings of this story and manipulates all she meets in order to accomplish her projects. Of course, the Vicomte de Valmont is her equal in terms of cruelty and lust, but Madame de Merteuil remains the most diabolical as her thoughts and actions are revealed through her letters, along with the other characters, whose letters are all condensed in this epistolary novel, which inspired Heiner Muller to write a play called Quartett, with the same characters, a theater adaptation by Christpher Hampton, and a movie by Stephen Frears whom several people consider a masterpiece.
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Told through letters, Les Liaisons chronicles the erotic adventures of the evil Madame Merteuil and her former lover the Vicomte de Valmont. This sadistic duo teams up to manipulate, corrupt, and drag the reputations of countless individuals into obloquy. The sad part is they succeed in everything they set out to do. If there is any vindication, it comes at too high a cost. There are no heroes or winners in this novel, only victims. Though written in the 18th century, this epistolary novel still has the power to shock, disturb, and titillate. People today may recognize dangerous truths contained in its pages or pitfalls that they might have encountered in their callow days. I was not particularly fond of this novel, being as it was a catalogue of the escapades of a pair of perverse, lascivious, cruel individuals, however I am glad that I read it, and I do not rule out re-reading it again. As a slamming indictment against the decadence of the French aristocracy and against the loss of long-cherished values among the women of today, this book is worth studying.
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I am sometimes hesitant about buying translated versions of French classics, as sometimes they just don't sound right. This version, however, reads very naturally and is a very good translation. The book itself is great, a really good story and very intriguing. Highly recommend both the story and this version..
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