Saturday, 24 September 2011

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos

Title: Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Author: Choderlos de Laclos
Publisher: Oxford World Classics
ISBN: 978-0199536481
Pages: 402
Series: N/A
Type: Adult Classic
Source: Purchased

Wealthy, devious and bored the Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil have formed an alliance and begin a dangerous game of seduction and domination. Eager to preserve their reputations, Valmont as a libertine and Merteuil as a lady they act out their roles with passion and vigour. Yet by targeting the naive Cecile Volanges, the lovestruck Chevalier Danceny and the pious Madame de Tourvel the pair don't realise that in a game this deadly, the guilty will suffer along with the innocent.

I'm a long term fan of the movie Cruel Intentions so I've wanted to read the original book for a while just to see how it compares. Now I have I can completely understand the controversy and scandal that resulted from the publication of this book in 1782. I'm also amazed at the modernity of the story. I enjoyed the modern feel to the book, and if that is down to the translation alone then I applaud Douglas Parmee for making the book so easy to read, but it could be that the themes of love, lust and betrayal are universal.

Written as a series of letters between the main characters, the author does imply that these were real people and obscures the identity of various individuals and places, as well as the year the events take place in. However there is also a publishers note stating this is a work of fiction. Whether these characters or just people like them actually existed, the book remains a view on the excesses of wealth and twisted games played by those in positions of power.

Merteuil and Valmont are incredibly devious and twisted, playing their games with a kind of maniacal glee and delighting in the suffering they entail. Cecile is incredibly naive as is the Madame de Tourvel and they get swept along with Valmont's schemes without realising the danger they are in. But I ended up feeling sorry for Valmont who is as much a victim as a victor, caught in his own web and at the mercy of the viscious Merteuil.

All in all this was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Enjoyment: 10/10
Cover: 7/10

Overall: 44/50


  1. This is one of my favourite classics. I'm glad you liked it. I agree; it feels really modern and is not difficult to read at all. Valmont and Merteuil are so twisted, but so much fun to read about.

  2. It was great. I barely noticed it wasn't a modern book. I totally agree that they are twisted but loads of fun to read about :)

  3. Ahh I'm hoping to study French at Uni later this year so I should probably add this to my TBR pile (both the English and French version!). For some reason Cruel intentions is a book that's stuck in my head for years and years even though I can't remember much of it's plot or who the characters are! I love these sorts of scandalous French novels so I've gotta get my hands on this soon! Great review :)

    What's Hot?

    1. It's definitely a scandalous novel! I kept wondering how it managed to get published and checking the original publication date!

      Thanks for stopping by Laura :)


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