Dangerous Liaisons


French author Pierre-Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos (1741–1803) published Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous liaisons) in 1782, signed only with his initials. Widely regarded as scandalous work, the epistolary novel etched the name of Laclos in the literary tradition of the 18th century, in which fiction in the form of purportedly discovered letters and memoires flourished, and in which debauchery and anonymity were interlinked. In the novel, the characters Merteuil and Valmont, aristocratic members of an overly mannered, rarified society near the end of the ancien régime, hatch an infernal trap in which they themselves fall, leading to the story’s tragic ending. The prodigious success of Les Liaisons dangereuses was only equaled by that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's La Nouvelle Héloïse (The new Heloise) 20 years earlier. The novel, which Laclos initially entitled Le danger des liaisons (The danger of liaisons), is suffused with tension and moral ambiguity, and critics have long debated whether Laclos intended to write a work exposing the decadence of the aristocratic society of his day. This manuscript is a copy of an initial unknown draft, worked on by Laclos at two different times. Laclos later reordered some of the letters in the novel.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information



Title in Original Language

Les Liaisons dangereuses

Type of Item

Physical Description

Signed manuscript, corrected intermediate version. Paper, 93 pages; 25.5 x 20 centimeters. Half-binding in ivory

Last updated: January 8, 2018