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Dangerous Liaisons

Key Facts

Main ideas 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