Search Menu

Dangerous Liaisons

Pierre Ambroise Laclos


Key Facts

full title · Dangerous Liaisons or, Letters Collected in One Section of Society and Published for the Edification of Others by Monsieur C_ de L_

author · Pierre-Ambroise-François Choderlos de Laclos

type of work · Novel

genre · Epistolary novel

language · French

time and place written · Paris, late 1770s or early 1780s

date of first publication · 1782

date of first public banning · 1824

first publisher · Choderlos de Laclos

narrator · Because the novel is composed of letters written by different people, there are multiple narrators. Virtually every person in the character list is a narrator.

protagonist · There are multiple protagonists for the same reason there are multiple narrators.

antagonist · Some readers view the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont as antagonists. But it is also possible to see them as anti-heroine and hero, who in fact antagonize themselves into ruin.

settings (time) · August to January in an unspecified year of the 18th century

settings (place) · Paris and various estates in the French countryside

point of view · The first person point of view shifts, depending on who composes a particular letter; more generally, it is that of the French aristocracy in the late 1700s.

falling action · The beginning of Part four, when Valmont finally succeeds in seducing the Présidente de Tourvel

tense · For the most part, past, except when the authors of the letters describe their sentiments at the moment of writing, or make predictions about (or demands for) the future.

foreshadowing · None

tones · Polite, flattering, passionate, imploring, disdainful, gossiping, earnest

symbols · The letter, the key

themes · Desire, war, religion, sincerity, education, men and women

motifs · The opera, class, illness and medicine

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!