Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Paris. France’s capital city is the focal point of the novel’s action. During the eighteenth century, Paris was the center of social interaction. Laclos’s novel portrays the aristocracy of the period, especially the libertine segment of this social group. Paris is thus the only setting possible for Laclos’s fiction.
Madame de Rosemonde’s château
Madame de Rosemonde’s château (rohz-MOHND). Country house belonging to Madame de Rosemonde, the aunt of the vicomte de Valmont. The château is important as the place where the notorious libertine Valmont may encounter and interact with a woman of the upper bourgeoisie. Madame de Tourvel is visiting Madame de Rosemonde during her husband’s absence from Paris. She has in a sense withdrawn from society and shut herself away from the dangers of Paris. It is also at the château that the unsuspecting Cécile de Volanges is placed in a vulnerable situation that allows Valmont to seduce and morally corrupt her.
In the village near the château Valmont performs a charitable act that helps a miserable villager in order to convince Madame de Tourvel that he is of good character.
Convent. Religious community from which Cécile’s mother brings her home to Paris. At the time in which the novel is set, convents were traditional refuges for women and residences for girls of aristocratic families until they reached...
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Conroy, Peter V. Intimate, Intrusive and Triumphant: Readers in the “Liaisons dangereuses.” Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1987. Concludes that the fictional reader is the most powerful character “in” the book, more powerful than the narrator. Discusses form and technique from the perception of the reader.
Free, Lloyd R., ed. Laclos: Critical Approaches to “Les Liaisons dangereuses.” Madrid: Studia Humanitas, 1978. Eleven essays by critics discussing evil, characterization, suspense structures, language, and contemporary consciousness.
Meltzer, Françoise. “Laclos’ Purloined Letters.” Critical Inquiry 8, no. 3 (Spring, 1982): 515-529. Points out that in the epistolary novel, it is the fictional reader who most clearly creates the text. Discussion, which is informed by the work of Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan, argues ironically that a purloined letter always arrives at its destination.
Miller, Nancy K. “Rereading as a Woman: The Body in Practice.” Poetics Today 6, nos. 1/2 (1985): 291-299. Examines the scene in which the Vicomte de Valmont writes a letter to Madame de Tourval literally on Emilie’s body and gives a feminist reading of male production of reading and its “rules.”
Roussel, Roy. “The Project of Seduction and the Equality of the Sexes in...
(The entire section is 222 words.)