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4.7 out of 5 stars26
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 29 March 2009
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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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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on 6 July 2010
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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on 11 July 2010
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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on 20 January 2012
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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on 12 September 2014
This book is a masterpiece. I enjoyed it from the first until the last page. The characters of Valmount and Merteuil are truly seductive, although very mean and subtle (especially the Marquise). Unexpectedly great, I would read it again and again!
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on 2 February 2014
Really enjoyed this book. Quite a page turner. Loved the unique format of letter writing in this book. It gives a wonderful insight into the minds of the two evil protagonists. Every woman should read this book.
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on 7 October 2013
Even though it's such an old book and you have to take a bit more time to absorb the details and get to grips with some of the wording it's a wonderful read and fabulous story line.
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on 30 October 2015
Well now...that's a story. Much, much more engaging than the film (and I like the film!).
Kindle edition is fine. Nothing extra - just does what we want kindle versions to do.
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on 3 November 2015
A beautifully written book. I have indeed enjoyed the way this Book has been written. Keeps you entertained
Read it, if you enjoy a romantic epic book!
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