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Dangerous Liaisons : Popular Penguins : Popular Penguins - Pierre Choderlos De Laclos

Dangerous Liaisons : Popular Penguins

Popular Penguins

Paperback Published: 28th June 2010
ISBN: 9780141195148
Number Of Pages: 418

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Depicting decadence and moral corruption in pre-revolutionary France, Dangerous Liaisons is one of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature.

Two aristocrats embark on a sophisticated game of seduction and manipulation to bring amusement to their jaded existences. While the Marquise de Merteuil challenges the Vicomte de Valmont to seduce an innocent convent girl, the Vicomte is also occupied with the conquest of a virtuous married woman. As their intrigues become more duplicitous and they find their human pawns responding in ways they could not have predicted, the consequences prove to be more serious, and deadly, than Merteuil and Valmont could have guessed.

About The Author

Choderlos de Laclos was born in 1741, at Amiens. 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 Dangerous Liaisons was written.

PART ONE

letter 1


e´cile Volanges to Sophie Carnay at the Ursuline convent of...

As you see, my dear Sophie, I am as good as my word, and not spending all my time on frills and furbelows; I shall always have time for you. All the same, I have seen more finery in one single day than in the whole of the four years we spent together; and I do believe the high-and-mighty Tanville* will be more humiliated at my first visit to the convent – for I shall be sure to ask for her – than she doubtless supposed we were by all those visits she used to pay us, en grande toilette.1 Mamma asks my opinion about everything; she treats me less like a little schoolgirl than she used to. I have my own maid; I have a room and closet at my disposal, and I am writing this at the prettiest little secre´taire;2 I have a key to it and can lock away whatever I wish. Mamma has said that I should go and see her every day when she rises; that I do not need to have my hair dressed until dinner, because we shall always be alone; and that she will tell me each day what time I must join her in the afternoon. The remainder of the time is my own and I have my harp, my drawing and my books, just as I had in the convent; except Mother Perpe´tue is not there to scold me and if I choose to fritter my time away, that is my affair: but as my Sophie is not there to giggle and chatter with, I may as well keep busy.

It is not yet five o'clock; I am not to see Mamma until seven: there is plenty of time to write, if I only had something to tell! But they have not yet breathed a word. And were it not for all the obvious preparations and all the women who keep coming in to do things for me, I should believe no one had the least notion of marrying me, and that it was simply another piece of our dear Jose´phine's nonsense.† But Mamma has told me so often that a young lady should stay in the convent until she marries that, now she has taken me out, I think Jose´phine must be right.

* A pupil at the same convent. † A tourie`re3 in the convent.

A carriage has just pulled up outside the door and Mamma has sent word for me to come to her rooms immediately. Could it be him? I am not dressed, my hand is shaking and my heart is thumping. I have asked my maid if she knows who is with my mother. She said: 'It's Monsieur C—, for certain,' and laughed. Oh! I think it must be him! I promise to come back and tell you what happens. That is his name, anyway. I must not keep him waiting. Farewell, for a little while.

Oh, how you'll laugh at your poor Ce´cile! I was so embarrassed! But you would have fallen into the same trap. When I went in to Mamma's room I saw a gentleman in black standing beside her. I curtsied to him as prettily as I could, and stood there, unable to move. You can imagine how I studied him! 'Madame,' he said to my mother, and with a bow in my direction, 'she is a charming young lady, and I am more than ever sensible of the honour you have done me.' I was overcome by such a fit of the shakes at this boldness, my knees gave way; I found an armchair and sat down, flushed and taken aback. No sooner had I sat down than suddenly the man was kneeling in front of me. At that point your poor friend Ce´cile lost her head; as Mamma said, I was absolutely panic-stricken. I got up and gave a loud shriek . . . just like that day when there was the thunderstorm. Mamma burst out laughing, saying: 'Whatever is the matter with you? Sit down and give Monsieur your foot.' My dear, the gentleman was actually a shoemaker. I cannot tell you how embarrassed I was! Luckily there was no one there except Mamma. I think when I am married I shall not employ that shoemaker any more.

We are very worldly-wise now, don't you think? Goodbye! It's nearly six and my maid says I have to dress. Goodbye, dear Sophie; I love you just as much as if we were still in the convent.

P.S. I don't know by whom to send this letter so I shall wait for Jose´phine to arrive.

Paris, 3 August 17**

ISBN: 9780141195148
ISBN-10: 0141195142
Series: Popular Penguins
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 418
Published: 28th June 2010
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 17.9 x 11.1  x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.25
Edition Number: 1

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