Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thoughts: Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos

“On arriving at my temple of love I chose the most elegant negligee I could find: a delicious one of my own creation. It reveals nothing and suggests everything.”

I first saw the film Cruel Intentions when I was in elementary school. Ryan Philippe and Sarah Michelle Gellar played step-siblings who gambled on Reese Witherspoon’s virginity. My ten-year-old self ate it all up, and especially loved the fact the whole movie was set in New York. A couple of years later, I found out that the movie was based on a book released in the 1780s (imagine my surprise). Since then, I’ve been looking for a copy, and only got my hands on one recently.

Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil are hell-bent on ruining Cecile Volange’s reputation and innocence. Valmont also has a little project of his own. He’s intent on corrupting the religious and morally upright Madame Tourvel. This can’t possibly end well.

The entire book is told in a series of letters, and that only makes the whole thing deliciously bad. I found out the characters’ innermost thoughts and wishes, and watched how they changed their personalities, depending on who they were writing to. In his letters to Madame de Tourvel, Valmont became the persistent suitor whose heart was breaking, while, in his letters to Marquise de Merteuil, he revealed his plans of corrupting the said madame.

And Marquise de Mertuil. I still can’t decide whether I liked her or Valmont more. Fine, she’s completely evil, but she has a backbone, which is more than can be said about some female fictional characters I know. I was in awe as I read about her schemes, and her transformation from an intelligent girl of fifteen to the scheming and almost invincible woman she became. *Fans self with hand.*

This is a book I’m going to reread over and over again. Also, this is the definitely the kind of book you would want to shove into someone’s face when they say they don’t like classics. In a nutshell, Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass have nothing on Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil.

9 comments:

moshimoshinekobookreview said...

Sounds great! I have a copy of the book and I also bought it after I found out Cruel Intentions was based on a French novel from the 1700s, although I wasn't a particular fan of the film. The premise interested me the most. I might pick this up some time.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I too read this after loving the film Cruel Intentions as a teenager! It's such a great book, isn't it?

I agree that the letter format is perfect for showing up the scheming and the different faces people put on in front of different people.

Glad you enjoyed it too :)

Andi said...

Ooooh, I've always wanted to read this book!!!! I have no idea how I haven't gotten my hands on a copy by now, but you've totally convinced me that I need to read it. Perhaps for A Classics Challenge this year!!! Great review. My appetite is whetted!

Would also like to include your review in my upcoming Linkapalooza post!

Zibilee said...

I tried to read this many moons ago, but at the time, I didn't have the background or tenacity to stick with it. It sounds like I missed something great, but that is ok, because my copy is still here on my shelf. Now I know that it was right to save it! Great and very enticing review today, Darlyn!

Nymeth said...

I really need to get my hands on this one. It's been on my radar for a long time, but your review makes me want to get to it sooner rather than later.

Ben said...

I'm glad you liked it. It's my favorite book written before 1900. Unreliable narration wasn't born with Laclos (Lawrence Stern has to take credit for this one, but the frenchman gave it a new dimension and sure made it a lot of fun. I thought the confused letter from Valmont's courrier was a nice touch. Made me LOL in my bedroom.

Jillian said...

This sounds like an awesome book! Added it to my TBR... :)

mel u said...

This based on your review is a book I would for sure want to read-it looks like there might not be a translated version in the public domain

Rebecca Reid said...

I knew NOTHING about this classic! Sounds like something I should read.

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