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A Study of Nastiness
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?