Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos
- September 5
) was a French novelist, official and army general. A unique case in French literature, he was for a long time considered to be as scandalous a writer as the Marquis de Sade
or Nicolas-Edme Rétif
. He was a military officer with no illusions about human relations, and an amateur writer; however, his initial plan was to "write a work which departed from the ordinary, which made a noise, and which would remain on earth after his death"; from this point of view he mostly attained his goals, since the fame of his masterwork Les Liaisons dangereuses
is such that it can be considered one of the most well-known books in the world. It is one of the masterpieces of novelistic literature of the eighteenth century, which explores the amorous intrigues of the aristocracy. It has inspired a large number of critical and analytic commentaries, plays, and films.
Les Liaisons dangereuses
As a writer, Laclos is best remembered for his epistolary novel
, Les Liaisons dangereuses
), a classic celebrated for its exploration of seduction
, and human malice
, presented in the form of fictional letters collected and published by a fictional author. The book was viewed as scandalous at the time of its publications and the real intentions of the author remain unknown. It has been suggested that Laclos's intention was the same as that of his fictional author in the novel and to write a morality tale
about the corrupt, squalid nobility of the Ancien Régime
. However, this theory has been questioned on several grounds. In the first place, Laclos enjoyed the patronage of France's most senior aristocrat
- the duc d'Orléans. Secondly, all the characters in the story are aristocrats, including the virtuous heroines - Madame de Tourvel and Madame du Rosemonde. Finally, many ultra-royalist and conservative figures enjoyed the book, including Queen Marie-Antoinette
, which suggests that - despite its scandalous reputation - it was not viewed as a political work until the events of the French Revolution
years later made it appear as such, with the benefit of hindsight.
Adaptations of Les Liaisons dangereuses
Choderlos de Laclos died in the former convent of St. Francis of Assisi
, but following the demise of Napoleon Bonaparte
the locals destroyed his burial tomb and it is believed that his bones were tossed into the sea.