By Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Douglas Parmée, David Coward
The complicated ethical ambiguities of seduction and revenge make Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) some of the most scandalous and debatable novels in eu literature. Its major movers, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil--gifted, prosperous, and bored--form an unholy alliance and switch seduction right into a online game. they usually play this video game with such wit and magnificence that it truly is very unlikely to not respect them, until eventually they observe mysterious principles that they can not comprehend. within the resulting conflict there may be no winners, and the blameless undergo with the guilty.
This new translation supplies Laclos a latest voice, and readers may be capable of pass judgement on no matter if the radical is as "diabolical" and "infamous" as its critics have claimed, or even if it has a lot to inform us a few global we nonetheless inhabit
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Extra resources for Les liaisons dangereuses
Valmont and Merteuil exhibit effortless superiority. Audacious, intelligent, and lucid, they reduce human relationships to a set of strategies and their control of the campaigns they initiate is absolute. Their battle plans are implemented with military precision and they have nerves of steel. Moreover, they have style in abundance and wit to squander. Yet they have one weakness. Their self-confidence does not quite disguise their need to be admired. This explains why they throw caution to the winds and, against their policy of not writing down anything that might possibly be used against them, maintain a correspondence with each other which leaves their flanks supremely vulnerable.
Of course, a lucky thrust cannot be ruled out, but the probabilities would suggest that Valmont allows himself to be killed, that his death is therefore an honourable form of suicide, and that he allows himself to die because he cannot live without the woman he has wronged. Support for this view is drawn from a note, mentioned by Mme de Volanges in letter 154 but suppressed by the ‘editor’ (it survives in the manuscript), in which Valmont makes a despairing attempt to rescue the dying Mme de Tourvel: the knowledge that he loves her will surely heal the wound which he so callously inflicted.
Laclos never provided a satisfactory explanation of what he had set out to do or what he had achieved. True, in his letters to Mme Riccoboni he claimed that the reaction of readers showed that he had succeeded in rousing ‘the healthy indignation of the public’ against sexual predators like Valmont and Merteuil. But there, it could equally be said that, like his protagonists, Laclos did not much care for losing and would have used any means to win the argument. And if he never disowned his novel, it is far from clear what he kept faith with.