Item description for Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre-Ambroise De Laclos...
In this special collector's edition of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the Marquise de Merteuil and her accomplished rival in the art of erotic and psychological manipulation, the Vicomte de Valmont, take the stage again in Ernest Dowson's beautifully polished translation of the book which, as Baudelaire famously said, "Burns like ice."
In this new edition of the once infamous novel, the elegance of Dowson's translation is stylishly complemented by the elegant, coolly erotic etchings of Sylvain Sauvage, originally executed by that distinguished French illustrator for a deluxe edition published in Paris in 1930. Sauvage's artful renditions of scenes from the novel provide an elegant accompaniment for the darkly glittering luxury and decadence of le beau monde portrayed by de Laclos.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Les Liaisons Dangereuses?
A wicked tale Apr 11, 2008
I think it was Kierkegaard who advised to be aware of entangling alliances. The web of sin in this book is masterfully woven as letters to frame-up an epistolary novel in which each character's letters speak volumes about the characters themselves. The novel was written in the same period as Rousseau in the Napoleonic era, when the novel as a genre was relatively young. Valmont is the penultimate anti-hero and knave who finds decadent pleasure in conquering, as if it were a military campaign, and then abandoning beautiful, prominent women in high society. His cohort the Marquise de Merteuil must be considered one of the great fiends of this new genre, who earns her just rewards. It's fascinating to witness the noose tightening in the exchange of letters among the characters. The dialogue about the nature of love is beautifully articulated in many places, where it is sincere. "And love: does one have it when one wills? Yet one needs it ever." Or "Teach me to live where you are not." So often in this novel love is a high-stakes game played for the perverse joy engendered by the spectacle of the demise of one of the lovers. This is a one of a kind epistolary novel worthy of the acclaim it has received over the centuries for its engaging story line as a morality tale told in the decadent high society of France in the time of Napoleon.
The moralists against the hedonists Mar 6, 2008
I used the Lowell Blair translation.
A lesson in morality----the moralists against the hedonists. Dangerous liaisons, or acquaintances, is a novel against an immoral, powerful and envied class----the aristocrats; it sent a shock-wave through France. The book is in the form of letters, which average two pages each. One man, with his Aunt as an accomplice, sets out to conquer and seduce woman, and split a young couple through deceit and manipulation; it ends in tragedy.
De Laclos wrote for the French army in the late eighteenth century; this was his only novel. He does a remarkable job conveying to the reader the demeanor and uniqueness of each character, from a fifteen to a ninety year old (although the fifteen year old girl does come of as a bit too mature for her age); he is able to leave much to the imagination. I think the use of English names would have made it easier to follow.
In the introduction by Blair, it is debated whether these people actually existed, and discretion is recommended when reading this novel. If ones mind is prepared, I don't see where discretion is of concern. If anything it should strengthen us in recognizing our own wrongdoing and show that that kind of life does not bring happiness----only emptiness.
Wish you well Scott
Laclos' Libertine Lust Dec 24, 2007
Dangerous Liaisons (1782) is an epistolary novel, the print candy of the voyeur with the slightest degree of imagination. Laclos has penned letters that weave an intricate toile of lives, loves and hates set in French estates, countrysides and city scapes. Letters between the two leads, a lechorous libertine male (gentelman is unwarrented in his case) and a Grand Dame of French society (on the surface, manipulative witch is far more accurate) for the crux of the story. They spend their time manipulating those around them, creating love affairs, while having strings of assignations with the (guilty and trouble) puppets. During the course of manipulations an increasing antipathy forms between the two main characters. The manipulated are portrayed in the conspirator's letters as insipid, stupid near sock puppets - yet in their own letters they are a moral balance to leading couple. If you are looking for a guide to manipulation, an etiquette book for the erotic libertine lifestyle, or a well crafted `hate' `love' story, then Laclos' Dangerous Liasions (1782), is an excellent choice.
Sure to make Modern-Day Nobility Blush!! Nov 25, 2007
Bawdy story telling without being overly sexual, those factors are what makes this novel a great read! A game between two members of the nobility of the opposite sex leads to none other than "Dangerous Liasons." This book was written in "letter format", that is correspondences between individuals, which can get confusing at times, but the reader, paying close attention, will be able to follow the plot. A fine example of what sexual excess without borders can lead to.
Masterpiece Mangled by Atrocious Translation Aug 31, 2007
I purchased the Oxford Classic edition of Les Liasons, translated by Douglas Parmee, and much to my chagrin, found the text to be riddled with poor writing and literary anachronisms.
Parmee may be accurately transliterating the French original; I of course cannot read it. But the book he has produced borders on the unreadable. Cecile, an aristocratic French girl of 15, speaks like a besotted 60-year old English gentleman. "Fortunately Mummy's feeling much better today and Madame de Marteuil is coming with the Chevalier Danceny and somebody else but she never comes until late and when you're all alone for such a long time, it gets jolly boring." (pg. 32) Yes, you read that right, "jolly boring." In Parmee's translation, Cecile uses "jolly" quite often, but somehow I cannot imagine a beautiful if naive French girl ever saying "jolly" anything.
Also gone is the tense sophistication of the Vicomte and the Marquise's dialogs in the movie--in its stead it seems that Parmee has elected to give them the voices of two American High School students, void of all intelligence, charm and wit, leaving them with just enough arrogant cunning to move the plot. Throughout all the letters, there are a great deal of run-on sentences which require a great deal of effort to understand, a characteristic of bad writing.
I've read a few pages of the Lièvre translation and can plainly see that it is much improved. I recommend you purchase that version and leave this one well alone, as I plan to do.