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Monday, May 21, 2012

Les Liasons Dangereuses by Choderlos De Laclos

Choderlos de Laclos

Les Liaisons Dangereuses
by Choderlos De Lacos
Translation by Douglas Parmee
Oxford World's Classics Edition
p. 1782
this edition 1995

      This is the second to last book I have left in the 1700s section of the 2006 edition of the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.  The last book is Jean-Jacques Rousseaus' epistolary novel, Julie or the New Heloise.  Mentally, I'm already engaging the 19th century, so it's hard not to see Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 19th century terms, anachronistic as that may be.

  Les Liaisons Dangeruses is an epistolary novel written by an Author who was well familiar with early 18th century examples, notably Pamela and Clarissa by Samuel Richardson.  The awareness is so entrenched that the Vicomte de Valmont (the John Malkovich character in the movie.) actually references plot points from Clarissa, specifically the scene where Clarissa is essentially drugged and raped by her would-be suitor.

  Laclos' epistolary novel is much more self-consciously stylish then Richardson's pioneering work.   Both Pamela and Clarissa are close to a thousand pages long, and Laclos brings it in at under four hundred pages.

  Laclos presents much the same critique of the French Enlightenment as De Sade, without all of that nasty obscenity.  As such, it's easy to see why Les Liasons Dangereuses has maintained such favor with Audiences all over the world as an example of 18th century French literature.


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