Choderlos de Laclos


Easton Press Choderlos de Laclos books

Dangerous Acquaintances - Library of Famous Editions  - 1986
Dangerous Liaisons - 2013

Choderlos de Laclos biography

Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos, commonly known as Choderlos de Laclos, was born on October 18, 1741, in Amiens, France. He rose to prominence as a military officer, diplomat, and writer during the tumultuous years leading up to the French Revolution. However, it is his literary masterpiece, Dangerous Liaisons (Les Liaisons Dangereuses), for which he is best remembered, cementing his legacy as one of the most celebrated authors of French literature.

Laclos began his career in the military, serving as a young artillery officer in the French army. His experiences in the military provided him with a keen understanding of human nature and the intricacies of power dynamics, which would later influence his writing. In addition to his military career, Laclos pursued a diplomatic career, serving as a diplomat in various capacities throughout Europe. His diplomatic postings exposed him to the political intrigues and social customs of the era, providing him with a rich tapestry of experiences to draw upon in his writing.

It was during his time as a soldier and diplomat that Laclos began work on his magnum opus, Dangerous Liaisons (Les Liaisons Dangereuses), which was published in 1782. The novel, presented in the form of letters exchanged between various characters, is a searing indictment of the decadence, hypocrisy, and moral corruption of the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the Revolution. Dangerous Liaisons tells the story of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two jaded aristocrats who engage in a game of seduction, manipulation, and revenge. Through their letters, Laclos exposes the dark underbelly of French society, exploring themes of love, desire, morality, and the abuse of power. The novel caused a sensation upon its publication, scandalizing readers with its frank depiction of sexual intrigue and moral depravity. However, it also garnered critical acclaim for its sharp wit, incisive social commentary, and masterful characterizations.

Despite the success of Dangerous Liaisons Laclos faced criticism and persecution from conservative elements within French society. In the wake of the Revolution, he found himself increasingly at odds with the revolutionary government, which viewed his novel as subversive and morally corrupting. Tragically, Laclos' literary career was cut short by his untimely death on September 5, 1803, at the age of 61. However, his legacy as a master of intrigue and morality lives on through his enduring masterpiece, Dangerous Liaisons which continues to captivate readers and inspire adaptations in various art forms to this day. Choderlos de Laclos remains an indelible figure in the annals of French literature, celebrated for his insight into the human condition and his uncompromising commitment to truth and artistic expression.

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