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Les Liaisons dangereuses (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – June 15, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


The Oxford World's Classic edition offers students an excellent introduction to this classic text and also important notes and chronologies. Dr. Paraic Finnerty, University of Portsmouth.

About the Author

Douglas Parmée is Retired Fellow of Queen's College, Cambridge. He is the translator of Nana, Attack on the Mill (Zola) and A Sentimental Journey (Flaubert) for World's Classics. David Coward is Professor of French at the University of Leeds. He is the translator and editor of Maupassant, de Sade, and Dumas in World's Classics.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Reissue edition (June 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199536481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199536481
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.3 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 106 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on February 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
Choderlos de Laclos' epistolary novel has been made into at least three film versions, but none of them come nearly up to the real thing. Laclos' story of evil and depravity, starring a pair of jaded aristocrats so satanic we wonder if they have a human bone in their bodies, is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, novels of the 18th century. In a nutshell, it revolves around the cynical plot to seduce and destroy the reputation of a young girl fresh out of her convent, which they plan and achieve with the icy calm and cynical detachment of a pair of mathematicians solving a calculus problem.
The anti-hero and anti-heroine of this book, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquis de Merteuil, fascinate and repel us at once by their sheer wickedness. Valmont is a depraved Casanova, lay-em-and-leave-em, who has lost count of all the broken hearts and destroyed characters he has left in his wake. The Marquise de Merteuil, married and widowed too young, has combined shrewd intelligence with appalling powers of deception to engage a string of lovers whom she uses and casts off at random. Somehow these two find each other and form an unholy partnership. When the book opens, their affair is already spent, but they have remained friends; and the Marquise is infuriated when she learns she is about to be dumped by her current lover, a rich aristocrat named Gercourt, who is about to marry Cecile de Volanges, the most naive teenager who ever emerged from the protective cocoon of convent education. Her main attraction, for him, is her virginity, and it is this the Marquise wants Valmont to do away with so that Gercourt will find out on his wedding night that he didn't get the innocent virgin he was expecting, but an already corrupted young woman, and will become the laughing stock of Paris.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By 5 Elements Style on August 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
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.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Vodkabite on September 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is probably my favourite classic novel of all time and deserves more than 5 stars. When I read it I was totaly blown away by it's genius. The Christoper Hampton play is excellent and the film based on it "Dangerous Liasons" is also very good, but the novel is even better. Which is unusual since it's when a film version is made that the story really comes alive for the reader not the other way round. The way it is written as a collection of what seems like real life letters revealing a scandal, that have been passed around members of society and finaly published makes you feel almost a part of the story. Being about a page and half long each, they are as if designed to read on the bus or tube despite being written in 1792!. It is very easy to pick up and put down again without losing the thread of the story. Laclos seems to know exactly how to pace and order the letters to maintain maximum interest and suspense from the beginning right through to the very end allowing the story to unfold at exactly the right moment. And even though I was very familiar with the plot I still never knew quite was going to happen next. The plot is remarkable and very famous so I wont go into it, but if you like it the novel is a must.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By David Harrison on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Along with L'Assommoir by Zola and Journey to the End of the Night by Celine, Choderlos de Laclos's masterpiece ranks as one of my favorite books of all time. To fully appreciate the genius of the letter writing form,one must understand that the libertine novels of the 18th century all utilized this format. Laclos admittedly set out to write a book that would depart from other works of the century to leave a dramatic imprint on the world, and he succeeded. While written in the same lingusitic and seductive style of a libertine novel, Laclos transforms the limited and mundane scope of the libertine world into a riveting classic. Each character reflects a different conception of "love" and how the libertine world can go awry when true sentiment is confused with lust. La Marquise de Merteuil reflects the purest degree of libertinage. In perhaps the most spellbinding of all the letters, she explains to Valmont her duplictious conduct after her husband's death to obtain her reputation among men and place herself at the forefront of society's attention. In contrast, Mlle. de Tourvel is the epitome of sentimental love, to the point that she can become physically ill if it is not reciprocated. Clearly what separates this work from other romance novels of the 18th century, elevating it to the level of other world masterpieces, is the character of Valmont. He is the heart and soul of this novel in every way possible. One one hand, Valmont is extremely self-assured in his ways, when describing his calculating, rational strategy in courting naive young ladies. On the other hand, he refuses to accept the reality evidenced by his relationship with Mme. de Tourvel that he is not the manipulative libertine that he, and society, consider him to be.Read more ›
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