‘I resolved to write a book which would create some stir in the world and continue to do after I had gone from it.’ - Choderlos de Laclos
A great sensation at the time of first publication, Les Liaisons Dangereuses reads as much the most 'modern' of eighteenth-century novels. Viewed by some critics as a morality tale and others as a subtle inquiry into libertinism, it brilliantly depicts the foibles of the French aristocracy on the eve of the French Revolution. Renowned for its exploration of lust, revenge and human malice, and still carrying a tremendous power to shock, its adaptations for screen and stage have made its central characters notorious for their sophisticated and ultimately tragic games of seduction and manipulation.
Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos (1741-1803) was born in Amiens, France. He entered the army at the age of 18 and reached the rank of capitaine-commandant without seeing battle. In 1779 he was sent to the island of Aix, where Les Liaisons Dangereuses was written. He also wrote a treatise on the education of women and on the French military architect Vauban.
‘Even today Les Liaisons remains the one French novel that gives us an impression of danger: it seems to require a label on its cover reserving it for external use only.’ – Jean Giraudoux