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Legaturi primejdioase – Choderlos de Laclos 1. „O ocazie pierduta se regaseste, in timp ce un pas gresit nu-l poti intoarce niciodata.” 2. „Dragostea stie mai bine sa se arate decat stie indiferenta sa o inlature.” 3. „Prietenia duioasa, increderea binefacatoare si singura fara rezerve, durerile alinate, placerile sporite, speranta incantatoare, amintirile dragi, unde le putem afla daca nu in iubire.” 4. „Asa sunt barbatii! Toti deopotriva de ticalosi in planurile lor numesc onestitate slabiciun
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  1 Legaturi primejdioase  –  Choderlos de Laclos 1. „O ocazie pierduta se regaseste, in timp ce un pas gresit nu - l poti intoarce niciodata.”   2. „Dragostea stie mai bine sa se arate decat stie indiferenta sa o inlature.”   3. „Prietenia duioasa, increderea  binefacatoare si singura fara rezerve, durerile alinate, placerile sporite, speranta incantatoare, amintirile dragi, unde le putem afla daca nu in iubire.”   4. „Asa sunt barbatii! Toti deopotriva de ticalosi in planurile lor numesc onestitate slabiciunile pe care le dovedesc cand e vorba sa le execute.”   5. „Unde nu -i aiureala, nu e pasiune  –  acesta e motivul pentru care femeile le sunt superioare  barbatilor in scrisorile de dragoste.”   6. „Nu tremura nimeni langa omul pe care il stimeaza; mai cu seama, nimeni nu indeparteazade la sine pe acela pe care-l considera vrednic de oarecare prietenie; te temi si fugi numai de omul primejdios.”   7. „Dragostea e un sentiment de sine statator, pe care prudenta paote sa il evite, dar nu sa -linfranga; si care din moment ce s-a nascut, nu mai moare decat de propria lui moarte, sau din lipsa totala de speranta.”   8. „Barbatul se bucura de fericirea pe care o simte, pe cand femeia de aceea pe care o  procura. Bucuria unuia vine de la implinirea dorintelor, a celuilat de la trezirea lor. A placea nu este pentru el decat un mijloc de succes, in vreme ce pentru ea e insusi succesul.”   9. „Farmecul pe care credem ca il gasim in ceilalti nu exista decat in noi; si numai dragosteainfrumuseteaza atat de mult fiinta iubita.”   10. „Uneori nenorocirea atinge o treapta cand prietenia insasi nme sporeste durerile si nu le mai poate lecui. Cand ranile sunt mortale, orice ajutor devine un act de cruzime.”   11. „Cand o femeie ocheste in inima altei femei, mai totdeauna nimereste locul sensibil si   rana e fara leac.”   Context Pierre-Ambroise-François Choderlos de Laclos was born in Amiens, France on October 18,1741, to a respectable family. At age eighteen, he entered the military as an artilleryman andspent some twenty years in service. He wrote light verse and a comic opera produced in1777,  Ernestine. In 1779 he was sent to the island of Aix to supervise the construction of afort. It was here that he composed  Dangerous Liaisons. In 1781 he returned to Paris tosupervise the printing and publication of his novel, which appeared in 1782 to great acclaimand scandal. In 1786 Laclos married Solanges Duperre, whom he had impregnated some twoyears earlier, and thus acted on better morals than those of most of his characters  2 in  Dangerous Liaisons. During the French Revolution, Laclos was imprisoned twice, thoughhe was released on both occasions. In 1800 he joined Napoleon's army. He was killed inservice in Italy in 1803. Any fame Laclos enjoys today is due entirely to  Dangerous Liaisons, his one great, diabolic masterpiece. Readers will agree that, in this case, one isenough. Some readers might think one was, in fact, more than enough.The epistolary novel grew in prominence throughout the 18th century until it finally arrivedat the pen of Choderlos de Laclos. Richardson's Clarissa in England and Rousseau's  La Nouvelle Heloïse in France, both epistolary novels, had been extremely well-received. Their themes of education, romance, and the definition of the female self were repeated in Laclos'sown work, but with a twist.Laclos learned from the error of Richardon and Rousseau's waysin that he did not create a novel written from a single perspective, that and he did not use theletters of his  Dangerous Liaisons solely to report the events of the novel. The diary-likeepistles of  Clarissa and  La Nouvelle Heloïse certainly kept the plot moving along, but theywere extremely flat. There seemed to be no motivation behind these letters. To combat thislack of depth, Laclos wrote a kind of drama in letters, where multiple personages vied andschemed with, and against, each other through what they wrote. It is the portrait of the end of an era, an extremely rarified society gasps its last breaths on the pages of   Dangerous Liaisons. It is the most extreme kind of epistolary novel one can imagine, a novel that couldnot be written except in letters, and it seems the last possible book of its kind. Its plot and itscharacters so perfectly motivate its own form that the result is terrifying and seamless.However, what is perhaps more important is that all this writing was going on against a background of a stirring revolution, or seven years before the beginning of the FrenchRevolution. Written so close to a time of civil war,  Dangerous Liaisons is itself extremelyconcerned with conflict and military strategy, even if only in the realm of romance and personal relationships. Choderlos himself was a military officer at the time of writing thenovel. As a soldier, Choderlos was something of an outsider to the society he described. Thiswas the society of the aristocracy, a society which, whether it knew it or not at the time, hadits back up against the wall. Its excesses, monetary and otherwise, had progressed to the pointwhere they could go no farther; fashion, no longer a pastime, had become a profession initself.The publication of   Dangerous Liaisons produced a scandal, not only because it described thelong success in society of two seemingly depraved individuals who lacked any trace of morals, but because it was seen as a roman à clef.  This is to say that readers of   Dangerous Liaisons claimed to be able to find certain keys in Choderlos de Laclos's descriptions of his personages which linked them to actual individuals in society. The preface to the novel thatdescribes how the letters were taken from an actual correspondence did nothing to dispel this belief. It is interesting that the issue of authenticity or sincerity of intentions is so frequentlyin question in the novel, since its own authenticity was frequently the topic of discussion inParisian society. One can only be sure that Laclos hoped to make a splash by writing a novelso clearly designed to titillate, amuse, and criticize.Despite its banning in 1824,  Dangerous Liaisons has risen through the ages as one of themost famous accounts in the French language of affairs of the heart. Though it is without adoubt the product of its time, produced by societal pressures, it is also an account of thelimitations of inter-personal relationships that no one has yet managed to escape entirely. Summary In a pair of sumptuous drawingrooms, one in a Parisian mansion, the other in a chateau on aluxurious estate in the countryside surrounding Paris, two aristocrats are very bored. TheMarquise de Merteuil decides, therefore, to construct a little intrigue for her own amusementand the amusement of her former lover, the Vicomte de Valmont. The Marquise is aware that  3 a young girl of good family, Cécile Volanges, has only just left the convent so that she can bemarried to the Comte de Gercourt. Now, the Marquise has a bone to pick with this particular Comte, and so she suggests to the Vicomte that he seduce and debauch Cécile to create ascandal and humiliate Gercourt. Valmont accepts the Marquise's proposal somewhat coolly,since he already has his eyes on another prey, the highly religious Présidente de Tourvel, thechaste wife of a member of Parliament. But, never one to refuse a challenge, Valmontsuggests that he and the Marquise enter into a slightly different bet: if he can obtain written proof that he has slept with the Présidente, the Marquise must yield herself to him.Meanwhile, Cécile has been presented to society, and in society she meets the charming andgentle Chevalier Danceny. Danceny becomes Cécile's music teacher and slowly, with a littlecoaxing from the Marquise de Merteuil, the two young people fall in love. During this time,Valmont is out in the country on his aunt's estate, trying to turn the Présidente de Tourvel'shead. He has very little luck in this department despite his use of every known trick in the book. Then, as coincidence would have, Cécile's mother, Madame Volanges, whocorresponds regularly with the Présidente de Tourvel, happens to say some rather unflatteringthings about Valmont in a letter which Valmont just happens to steal and read. And thus it isthat Valmont resolves to seduce the little Volanges as revenge for her mother's only tooaccurate trash-talk.Cécile's seduction would be more accurately termed rape, but the girl is persuaded toenter into a bizarre student-teacher relationship with Valmont, so that for a while she is beingcourted by Danceny and loved nightly by Valmont. During his time as Cécile's teacher,Valmont is also able to win the heart of the Présidente de Tourvel.However, the Marquise de Merteuil is not so easily pleased. Rather than encourage theVicomte de Valmont to meet the conditions of their srcinal agreement, she mocks him for having fallen in love with the Présidente de Tourvel. Valmont's pride does not withstandthese attacks very well, and to avoid compromising his reputation as a good-for-nothinggigolo, he leaves the Présidente cold, with no explanation. Cécile fares no better, after a particularly rough night in Valmont's room, she miscarries his child. Now things are really looking bad for everyone involved. The Présidente de Tourvel removesherself to a convent where she proceeds to die of grief and shame. Merteuil and Valmont arenever able to reconcile their little snit and can only agree to go to war with one another.Danceny learns that Valmont seduced Cécile and challenges him to a duel; and Danceny winsthe duel. Valmont hands over his correspondence with the Marquise to Danceny on hisdeathbed; all of society learns of her schemes and machinations. The Marquise is forced toflee town and, like a wicked old witch, is never heard from again. Full of regret for her activities with Valmont, Cécile returns to the convent from whence she came, with theintention of becoming a nun. CharactersThe Marquise de Merteuil - The toast of all Paris, considered wise and chaste, though shehas had more lovers than most professionals, until she enters into an unsavory deal with her former lover the Vicomte de Valmont. He must provide her with written proof that he hasseduced the religious Présidente de Tourvel before she will sleep with him again. By the endof the novel, the Marquise's tendency to enjoy intrigue before love gets her into trouble, andshe is revealed as the schemer she is.Read an in-depth analysis of The Marquise de Merteuil.   4 The Vicomte de Valmont - A rich playboy, who was at one time the Marquise deMerteuil's lover and confidant. Valmont seduces Cécile Volanges and falls in love with thePrésidente de Tourvel over the course of the novel. Like all players, he meets an unhappyend, dying in a duel with the Chevalier Danceny.Read an in-depth analysis of The Vicomte de Valmont.    The Présidente de Tourvel (in some English editions, Madame de Tourvel) - The chasteand religious wife of a member of Parliament. She is seduced by, and falls in love with, theVicomte de Valmont. She dies of grief when the Vicomte de Valmont leaves her. Cécile Volanges - A young girl, fresh out of the convent at the beginning of the novel.Cécile is preyed upon by Merteuil and Valmont. She also falls in love with the Chevalier Danceny. She is promised in marriage to the Comte de Gercourt, until it is discovered thatshe is no longer a virgin, thanks to Valmont, at which point she is forced to return to theconvent. Madame Volanges - The mother of Cécile, who arranges an advantageous marriage for her daughter and lives a respectable life. She corresponds frequently with the Présidente deTourvel. The Chevalier Danceny - The singing and harp teacher of Cécile Volanges. The Chevalier Danceny becomes the pet of the Marquise de Merteuil and the student of Valmont. Along theway, he falls in love with Cécile. He ends by killing Valmont in a duel over Cécile's honor. Madame de Rosemonde - The aunt of the Vicomte de Valmont. Madame de Rosemondeinvites a lot of people to stay with her at her country estate. She also corresponds with, andoffers advice to, the Présidente de Tourvel when the Présidente is having difficulties withValmont. The Comte de Gercourt - Madame Volanges has promised to marry Cécile to the Comtede Gercourt. However, he is with the army in Corsica during the events of the novel. Sophie Carnay - A friend Cécile made during the time she was in the convent. Sophiecontinues to live among the nuns, though she is able to take time out to write to Cécile fromtime to time. Sophie's letters are not included in the novel, but we can imagine that theycontain plenty of warnings and advice, the work of a traditional, devout, and extremely naïve,young girl. Azolan - The valet of the Vicomte de Valmont. Azolan is often required to offer bribes andsleep with other servants to get information for his master. Victoire - The Marquise de Merteuil's chambermaid. Victoire has been known to dress as afootman on occasion to participate in various romantic dramas as a messenger or a doorman. Emilie - A courtesan favored by Valmont. Emilie makes a brief appearance in letter forty-seven, where it is reported that her naked body has served as the writing desk. The Intendante - Valmont's former lover. The Intendante, took up with the Comte deGercourt directly after their break-up. The Marquise de Merteuil suggests that Valmontshould seduce Cécile, Gercourt's intended bride, to revenge himself against Gercourt.
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