Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Let us bid adieu to Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos, author of Dangerous Liaisons, who died of dysentery and malaria on this day in 1803. 

Dangerous Liaisons was a masterpiece of fiction based on the real-life, tangled amorous relations of 18th Century French aristocrats (Any similarity between myself, la Comtesse Marie, and characters within the novel are purely coincidental, I assure you.)

Did you know:

  • Although Laclos successfully wrote about the diabolical machinations of members of the ancien regime, he was actually born into a bourgeois family.
  • One of Laclos's first literary attempts was a comedic opera based on Marie Jeanne Riccoboni's popular novel, Ernestine.  The play, which debuted on July 19, 1777, was a tremendous failure.
  • Marie Antoinette attended the premiere of Laclos's first play.
  • The Chevalier Saint-Georges, a deadly swordsman, skilled equestrian, gifted musician, and unmatched lover, was one of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's closest friends. 
  • The title of Dangerous Liaisons in French is Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
  • Vicomte de Valmont, the sexual predator in Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's Dangerous Liaisons, was indeed based on a real nobleman, a calculating libertine.
  • For a time, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos served in the French Army.
  • After his stint in the military, Laclos entered the service of Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who was a cousin of Louis XVI and an instigator of the Revolution.  During the Revolution, the traitorous Orléans voted in favor of the execution of Louis XVI.  Karma is just though:  Orléans, who had changed his name to the more republican Philippe Égalité, was later sent to the guillotine.
  • Laclos was buried at Forte de Laclos, a military fort in the Isola di San Paolo in Italy.
  • The 1988 movie, Dangerous Liaisons, starring Glenn Close and John Malkovich, was based on Laclos's novel.  It won three Academy Awards and sixteen other cinematic awards.

First edition of
 Les Liaisons
from the King's Collection,
Palace of Versailles

Illustration from the first edition
of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
This engraving, which was
included in the original book,
 was done by Charles Monnet.


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