Choderlos de Laclos
Around 250 pages
I imagine quite a few people will be relieved that I have finished this book. I have been endlessly bothering people about it, including my friends, family, boss, and coworkers (no one is safe). This is owing to the fact that this is one of the most intriguing books I read; it is scandalous, informative, sexy, wicked, and entertaining.
I am sure most people are more familiar with the movie adaptations than the book. I myself have not seen the movie yet so I will still give a brief synopsis. This epistolary novel centers on two clever cowards who scorn people who are in love. Marquise de Merteuil and Viscount de Valmont are actually in love with each other, but as they are too afraid to admit they spend their time making other people's lives hell. Marquise de Merteuil's ex lover is getting married to the innocent Cecile. In order to get her revenge on him, she arranges for Valmont to seduce Cecile. Valmont, however, is more interested in seducing the virtuous Presidente de Tourvel. Oh, and Cecile falls in love with her music teacher, Chevalier Danceny. Confused yet?
On a superficial level, it would seem that this book is good with a bubble bath and some champagne. While it can in fact be enjoyed that way, this novel also works on a deeper level. First of all, Merteuil may just be one of the cleverest, wickedest villains in all of literature. She seems to control everyone around her, mainly using sex as her weapon. This makes her fascinating to watch. This book also has some great insight on love; indeed, it is much more honest than some of the other romantic novels on the list. For instance, Laclos states that women confuse love and the lover (something that I myself am guilty of). Finally, the fact that it can still be risque today is amazing. Laclos accomplishes this by being suggestive which enables you to let your imagination run wild and with this book, it will run in dirty places.
The perfect combination of soap opera and literature.
One of Marie Antoinette's favorite novels.
The characters of Valmont and Merteuil are often considered the first characters in literature to have acted solely on ideology.
Considered the source of the expression "revenge is a dish best served cold."