Les Liaisons Dangereuses - Chronology

  • Created by: CaraPW
  • Created on: 20-04-21 11:18


  • Two prefaces, probably written by Laclos - Publisher's note and Editor's preface
  • First says letters are fictional, letters too evil to be true, urges reader to not take it too seriously and reasons this with textual evidence - references end of novel with Tourvel's death
  • Editor's preface explains how he wanted to publish the real letters, lots of apologising for the content
  • Finds that the letters help people stay out of trouble - reason for publishing
  • Prefaces act to poke fun of respected response to letters - fluctuate between sarcasm and earnestness - anticipates style of Meurteuil and Valmont's letters
1 of 19

Letters 1-10

  • 1. Cécile (C) write to Sophie (S) that she's left the convent where Sophie still lives to marry
  • 2. Merteuil (M) writes to Valmont (V) that Gercourt (G), who Madame de Volanges (MV) wants to marry C, used to be M’s lover and dumped her for the Intendante, who slept with V. M and V have been sleeping together, M wants to take revenge on their former partners together and wants V to seduce C
  • 3.    C informs S that whilst in society, she's been blushing and falling asleep at card-tables
  • 4.  V accepts M’s suggestion reluctantly, predicts C will succumb to him. He suggests that he tricks the Présidente de Tourvel (PT) into bed
  • 5.  M mocks V for pursuing a nun and warns that Danceny (D) will get to C first
  • 6.   V responds to M with catalogue of PT’s subtle charms, notes nervousness might be a sign of attraction and that she might be convinced to change
  •     7.  C inform S about her new singing/harp teacher, D
  • 8.     PT writes to MV to wish C luck in her marriage, mentioning she has met V and that his confessions do not correspond with his bad reputation
  • 9.     MV’s response warns PT about V, and announces C’s marriage will be postponed as G has gone to war
  • 10. M scolds V for not writing first,  challegnes his courage because he’s taking his time with PT. Says she’s sleeping with D, and recently chased him all over town until they had sex
2 of 19

Letters 11-20

  • 11.  PT replies to MV to say V has let his guard down + that he does not treat her like other women because of her morals, wants to report on his conduct to MV
  • 12.    C writes to M to inform her she + MV can’t come to the opera since MV is sick
  • 13.    M replies to C to invite her to sing w. D
  • 14.    C sends gossipy letter to S, details recent interactions w M + D
  • 15     V writes to M about exploits w PT, also pretends to be jealous of D + hopes M will not leave him forever. PT is having a servant follow V so she will know what he’s doing, which amuses V
  • 16.     C tells S that D sent her a love letter attached to her haro when he put it in the closet, told her to practise later, she wonders whether she should consult M for advice
  • 17.     D begs C to tell him if she loves him or not, + wants to use the closet for further correspondence
  • 18.   C writes to S that she is confused, D showed up to last music lesson vvery ardent, she couldn’t even look at him but promised to reply to his letter,
  • 19.      C does w. some uncertainty, says he should be consoled that there is no one else competing for her affection + that he should tell nobody else
  • 20. M to V, M regrets faithlessness to her CH, wishes she + V were together again, condition for their reunion is that V must sleep w. P + obtain written proof of it
3 of 19

Letters 21-30

  • 21. V brags of success w. PT to M, plans to have positive things about him reported to PT through servant following him. He has his own servant find household w. bad debts + no attractive women, looks like he’s doing a good deed.
  • 22. PT is impressed, gushes to MV that she must reserve her judgement of V, PT + MR make a contribution to family in need
  • 23. V describes interaction w. PT, she has revealed to him that she knows of his deeds + takes him back to village w. her to make own contribution. He gets her alone in drawing room + confesses his love, PT is shocked + cries, flees, V follows her + sees her praying through keyhole. V is sleepless but cheerful + closes w. flattery of M
  • 24. V expresses regret at having told PT his feelings, becomes indignation that she'd judge him so quicky. He begs her care, asks that she leads him to goodness
  • 25. V to M,V has been admitted to PT's bedroom where she plays sick, he takes her pulse, she replies to him later w. letter enclosed
  • 26. PT expresses regret at responding to confession w. emotion, assuring him she will never return feelings, + assumed he respected her too much to do this
  • 27. C writes to M to ask for advice about how to conduct herself in affair w. D, includes letter 17
  • 28. D to C, wants her to show proof of affection, since he has revealed himself to her, he complains she feels nothing in refusing to write
  • 29. C worries to S over D’s complaints, over her own reluctance to reply + w. sophie who encouraged her silence. M has advised she should never admit to love until she can't help it
  • 30. C sends awkward love letter to D, invites him for dinner
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Letters 31-40

  • 31.D’s reply is wooden, stating confidence in their passion + his optimisism for future
  • 32.MV writes to PT to say she’ll always have bad opinion of V, + advises her not to stay isolated w. him
  • 33.M tells V he’s using wrong tactics to seduce PT, that he should stop writing letters + start speaking to her
  • 34.V tells M he cannot see PT or send her letters, + has to falsify a Dijon postmark + have servant plant his letter in the mailbox – PT will think its from her husband. She tears it up in disgust but V notes she hides pieces in her pockets
  • 35.   V to PT – two seductive letters
  • 36. See 35
  • 37. PT writes to MV to say that she wants V to leave MR’s estate to end the predicament w.out scandal
  • 38. M tells V about progress in educating C, she’s received letters of PT’s letters from him
  • 39. C writes to S to report latest tribulation w. H + appreciates M’s guidance
  • 40.   V writes to M, + also PT sends a letter to V, which he wants M to read. PT has asked V to leave her aunt’s estate, + he has been searching her rooms to try + find all her correspondence so he can figure out what to do
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Letters 41-50

  • 41. PT asks V to leave MR’s estate, that his harassment + advice about his bad reputation has persuaded her that she should leave
  • 42. V’s response to PT’s command – he will go but on two conditions – that PT will tell him who told her about his bad reputation + that they can correspond while apart
  • 43. PT is annoyed by Valmont’s conditions, replies that she won’t reveal her sources, although she lets him write to her
  • 44. V informs M that he thinks PT’s acceptance of his request is a sign of her secret love for him + he has also succeeded in reading her mail. He sexually blackmailed one of PT’s maids into stealing her mistress’s letters, PT kept all of his letters + he discovers MV spread nasty rumour about him, he wants to seduce C in revenge
  • 45. PT writes to MV that she is relieved about V’s departure
  • 46. Love letter from D to C, begging her to proves she loves him
  • 47. Letter w.in a letter – message from V to PT, which is given to her by M, when V writes to M, he recounts his evening w. Emilie, a courtesan – letter is composed erotically
  • 48. V swears to PT that she should never have cause to doubt his sincerity of love or the depths of his suffering
  • 49. C says to D that she cannot permit herself to love him
  • 50. PT’s final plea to V, she begs him to forget her now she is in Paris
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Letters 51-60

  • 51. M scolds V for the lack of attention he’s paid her + her schemes, + asks him to make up for his bad behaviour by gaining D’s confidence to encourage him to make love to C. M is annoyed by C + D’s very slow affair
  • 52. V begs PT to take his entreaties seriously + tells her she’s cruel for refusing him
  • 53. V replies to M, lets her know that D has begun to confess details of his relationship w. C
  • 54. M responds at greater length + complains at D’s romantic ineptitude, saying C deserves a better lover
  • 55. C writes to S about affair w. D, she cannot resist him, has admitted her feelings + hides nothing from him. Also says her friendship w. M is getting warmer, + she would be happy if she did not have to marry G
  • 56. PT emphasises to V the stability of her life now + that she’d be foolish to give it up for an affair, then asks him to stop writing + that it is the final letter she’ll write to him
  • 57. V writes to M announcing his success in securing D’s confidence + that he + M will have full access to C + D’s affair, V also suggests he + M should get together again
  • 58. V resists PT’s request that he break off their correspondence, saying that it’s his one last pleasure in life – he wants to devote himself to her + her happiness
  • 59. V writes to M that D has reported a tragedy of his love affair, w.out specifying the tragedy. Announces that he is about to accept an invitation to travel to a friend’s estate
  • Enclosed in letter 59, D reports his distress + begs to see V to seek his advice
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Letters 61-70

  • 61. C to S, explains cause of D’s distress,MV discovered the affair, barged into C’s room + demanded to see in her desk, first drawer she opened contained D’s letters
  • 62. MV writes to D to demand he stop making love to C + to return all of C’s letters to her as she’s sending his back
  • 63.  M explains events to V, she revealed the secret to MV. M was annoyed by D’s lack of ardour about C, + wanted to tach him value of time by taking his time w. C away, + arranged for C to be sent to MR’s estate, V now has an excuse to visit his aunt + permission to see PT
  • 64.Contained in letter 66 – draft of note from D to MV in which D apologises for hurting her b/c of the affair, but refuses to stop loving C or to return her letters
  • 65. D writes to C to ask her who betrayed her secret, swears his undying love + mentions that they should use V as their go-between
  • 66. V writes to M to descrive his recent interactions w. D w. regards to C’s affair + to reserve the right to sleep w. C if D refuses, he couldn’t persuade D to write otherwise than what he did write
  • 67. PT replies to V, she offers him friendship only
  • 68.  V’s response to PT, he cannot convert his love, asking him to do so is an insult to his feelings
  • 69.C, now deprived by her mother of all writing materials, responds to D on a sheet of paper torn from one of his letters - she loves him + is miserable. She doesn’t like V, but will suffer him for D’s sake
  • 70. V warns M about Prévan (PR), who wants to seduce M, + also V notes that PT has given into him, he takes offer of friendship as an indicator of willingness to offer more
8 of 19

Letters 71-80

  • 71. V describes to M his adventures at CB’s country house, he only just avoided being caught in a compromising position w. her
  • 72. D writes to C to tell her he loves her + that she should have confidence in V
  • 73. V attaches L73 to L72, announcing to C that he has arranged for her to have writing materials + that she should use him to communicate w. D
  • 74. M thanks V for his warning about PR, but tells him that she welcomes his advances, as she’s tiring of her affair w. Chevalier de Belleroche
  • 75. C describes to S V’s kind regard for her + way he has arranged her communication w. D
  • 76. V complaines to M about PR’s hold over her + the rest of the women in Paris’ social circles, also talks about his recent arrival to MR’s estate, + how PT had to hide her excitement, + how he has already started aiding C + D w. their romance
  • 77. V writes to PT demanding reasons for her cruel treatment of him, especially since she has pledged friendship to him – he says that he’d be lying to her if he stopped
  • 78. PT replies to V to beg him to accept her proposed indifference towards him as what it is: indifference
  • 79. V has important story to tell M – PR’s reputation was made by a triple seduction on three close friends – ruining all three of their reputations – serious warning to M, if she intends to carry on her relationship w. PR
  • 80. D expresses grief to C about being separated from her for so long
9 of 19

Letters 81-90

  • 81. Account by M of how she ‘created’ herself to V – response to V’s worries that she wouldn’t be able to take care of herself when it came to PR
  • 82.    C worries that b/c it’s so painful for D to love her, he will stop loving her
  • 83. V continues trying to corner M
  • 84.   V writes to C to apologise for the difficulty he’s had getting D’s correspondence to her, will be easier for him to bring her D’s letters if she gives him the key to her room
  • 85. M informs V that by convincing PR that he had defeated her, she was able to convince him to come to her bedroom – she cried **** once he started to try + make love to her, summoning all the servants – PR was ruined
  • 86. M she attaches a note from the Maréchale de ___ expressing her shock at what PR did
  • 87. M tells MV of the incident in more toned-down terms
  • 88. C declines V’s initial request that she steal her room keys from MV
  • 89. V is forced to resort to applying pressure on C through D, tells D his affair is progressing too slowly + if he will convince C to trust V, things will move more quickly
  • 90. PT begs V to go away, saying his presence only makes her suffer
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Letters 91-100

  • 91. V’s response to PT, another strange combo of accusations + apologies – he prays that she will not make him go away
  • 92. D writes back to V to express worries that C has stopped loving him, asks V to help secure her affections
  • 93. D to C, he is upset to hear how little trust C shows to V, worries why she refuses to see him + whether she has stopped loving him
  • 94. C replies, anguished + confused, does not understand what V can have told D, assures D she continues to love him + that she wants reunion
  • 95. C writes to V to tell him she consents to him having her key
  • 96. V tells M that he wants to take C’s virginity, + is enjoying toying w. PT – tells M that he snuck into C’s room one night + ***** her
  • 97. C writes to M to ell her of the **** + beg for her help
  • 98. MV writes to M to ask for her advice, assuming C’s unhappiness id due to separation from D + not V’s ****. She asks whether it would be better to let C marry D instead of G, since it’s obvious she loves him
  • 99. V informs M that he seems to be making progress w. PT, even though C locks her door from the inside at night now
  • 100.  V writes to M about PT leaving MR’s estate w.out telling him, railing ironically about women’s deceitful ways
11 of 19

Letters 101-110

  • 101. PT has written to MR to excuse herself for going away, her reason being that she is in love + her duty to her husband requires her to flee from her unnamed lover
  • 102.  MR is understanding + admiring of PT’s choice to flee, offering her both friendship + protection
  • 103. M writes to MV that she should not rush to grant her daughter’s wishes, + that she should choose C’s future husband – a love match will be a disadvantage
  • 104. M writes to C advising her not to be too honest w. MV if she asks her opinion on marriage
  • 105. M writes to V to mock him for not taking advantage of PT when he had the chance + informs him that she is tired of teaching C
  • 106.  Azolan replies to V, informing him that he spied on PT + she reads + sighs all day
  • 107. PT to MR, revealing that she loves V
  • 108.  C responds to M that she sees V nightly, + even though she doesn’t know what is happening, M must knows best so she trusts her advice
  • 109. V writes to M to bemoan his fate, writing that the only pleasure remaining in him is his **** of C
  • 110. CG writes to MV to ask her if it’s possible to postpone the wedding another few months whilst he holidays in Italy
12 of 19

Letters 111-120

  • 111. MR writes to PT dictating through her maid on account of her rheumatism to express friendship for PT
  • 112. M informs V that Paris has begun to remark upon his prolonged absence + that she has tired of her lover the Chevalier de Belleroche, that D is to be his successor, she is awaiting also the outcome of a lawsuit
  • 113.  PT replies to MR w. more worries, hearing that V is sick + has suddenly stopped writing, thinks it may be serious
  • 114. V brags to M about his exploits w. C + his conquests to come w. PT, also adivses M to leave D w. someone a little more his age
  • 115. D to C, he expresses his doubts, remarking how charming M is of late + how much he longs to hear C’s confirmation of her feelings
  • 116. C queries coyly whether D has appreciated the trouble she goes to to communicate w. him at all + also her unhappiness in being forced to marry CG, compliments V on his to keep them in communication
  • 117. D addresses M as my beloved friend, begging her to return from her absence of two days + compliments her on her intellect + describes the ways in which her acquaintance w. Cecile has increased his feelings for her
  • 118. MR describes to PT V’s recent activities, he has been hiding in his room + looking sad
  • 119.  V writes to father Anselme asking him to speak to PT about his recent resolution yo confess + renounce his sins
  • 120.  M tells D to stop flattering her + to have a mind for C
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Letters 121-130

  • 121.  MR writes to PT to tell her how dejected V looks in his room, he said he was thinking of ending his love out of grief for PT
  • 122. FA replies to V to tell him he’s arranged a meeting for him + PT
  • 123.  PT writes to MR that she plans to receive him + resolve the conflict between them + her own heart
  • 124.  V writes to M of the fact that he has slept w. PT, + also tells her that PR has  been imprisoned has been forcedly imprisoned + made to leave his regiment b/c of M
  • 125. MR to PT, maintains relationship, MR says she will take care of PT during this difficult time as she learns to resist her love for V
  • 126. M expresses disdain for V’s suggestion that they get back together, that such a reunion would be disadvantageous to them both, too many sacrifices
  • 127. PT confeses to MR that V now rules her life, + she is entirely devoted to him so has entirely accepted her own ruin
  • 128.V tries to smooth things over w. M, telling her that he prefers her over all women + his flattery to lots of women is just his manner of speaking
  • 129.MR attempts to comfort PT by telling her she it too good to be loved as she deserves + she also speculates on the difference between men + women: women take pleasure from giving love + men from taking
  • 130.     M accepts V’s apologies, but remains skeptical about whether they can be happy together agai
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Letters 131-140

  • 1)     PT replies to MR to tell her she is now thoroughly debauched but thoroughly happy – she will trouble MR no more by writing to her of it
  • 2)     V promises M that he does not love PT, swears he will send her proof of their affair
  • 3)     M accuses V of being in love w. PT + hiding it from himself – that they should just be friends in future since V’s lingering feelings for PT would get in the way. She has also ended her relationship w. Chevalier de Belleroche
  • 4)     PT writes to MR to tell her that V left her w.out warning + she then saw him w. a prostitute
  • 5)     PT writes to V to tell him never to come to her house again + to return her letters
  • 6)     V reploes to tell T that appearances have deceived her + not to end the relationship so suddenly
  • 1)     V assures M he’s not in love, tells her about more escapades w. Emilie, tells M he has sent a sweet note to PT explaining but not apologizing for his behaviour
  • 2)     PT writes to MR to tell her she was misled about V’s actions, he is innocent + she was too hasty to blame him
  • 3)     V composes another letter to M in which he recounts an episode w. C, C fell off the bed during sex when he got up to shut the window – she then had seixures n the floor, which he diagnosed as miscarriage, told her about pregnancy + recommended she see a doctor
  • 4)     M is not phased about C. she is only interested in ending his affair w. T as quickly as possible She tells him the exemplary story of a man who had gotten involved w. a woman he needed to be rid of, when the woman blamed him or begged him not to leave her, he said it’s not my fault so got rid of her
15 of 19

Letters 141-150

  • 141. V thanks M for letter-writing advice, + tells her cheerfully that he has sent a copy of the sample letter the PT, challenges M to say now that he’s still in love w. PT
  • 142. PT is devastated, tells MR that she is only looking forward to her own death
  •  143. V tells M that PT has retired to the convent + looks forward to going bacl into society. Tells her that C is getting over her miscarriage well + he wants to start ****** her again – in the meantime he plans to help D out more
  • 144. M writes she is flattered that V should hsve ruined his love b/c she made fun of him but cannot consent to their reunion. She thinks V should continue his affair w. C even after her marriage, + found a new line of Valmonts under the name of Gercourt
  • 145. M writes to D to tell him she looks forward to seeing him
  • 146. MV writes to MR to tell her PT is ill
  • 147. D confesses to M his love for her
  • 148. V writes again to MR to say PT is getting worse
  •      150. D writes to M to gush about his anticipation of their reunion
16 of 19

Letters 151-160

  • 151) V is not insensible to M’s sudden preference for D, protests to being treated like a schoolboy, says if she doesn’t treat him like he wants, he will take revenge
  • 152) M says to V she will not let any man control her – he has no proof that D has become her lover, + he can go ahead + bring vengeance, she doesn’t care
  • 153) V offers M + ultimatum – either they join forces or go to war – M responds “war” on the same piece of paper
  • 154) PT is wasting away, MV writes to MR to bemoan her impending death
  • 155) V reminds D of his infidelity to C – suggests D st+ up M + see C, attaches L156
  • 156) C begs D to come + visit her
  • 157) D replies gallantly that he’ll fly to C’s side
  • 158) V mocks M for getting stood up by D
  • 159) M is annoyed w. V for his cheap tricks
  • 160) MV writes to MR to send an unusual letter PT dictated to her maid, she lost consciousness before the envelope could be addressed
17 of 19

Letter 161-170

  • 161) PT, addressed first to a cruel + malignant man but moved to direct itself to a wronged husb+, then returns to an evil lover again
  • 162) D writes to V to summon him for a duel for the wrongs he has committed
  • 163) proof that D has carried out his duty – report to MR that V is dead, killed by D, he managed to h+ over his damning letters from M
  • 164) request from MR that D be prosecuted for V’s murder
  • 165) MV writes to MR that PT is dead
  • 166) MR’s lawyer writes to her that it might not be a good idea to take legal action against D for murder of V, in doing so evidence against V would be brought to light
  • 167) Anonymous to D to inform him he is likely to be prosecuted for V’s death, he should keep low profile
  • 168) MV informs MR that unflattering rumpurs have been spreading about M +h er letters are making the rounds
  • 169) D to MR – he snds correpsondance between M + V, PR should be found innocent of M’s accusations against him
  • 170) MV tells MR that her daughter has run away to become a nun, must think of something to tell CG what happened to C when he gets back
18 of 19

Letters 171-175

  • 171) MR to D, expression of grief over contents of D’s previous letter, makes request that D send her all of C’s leters
  • 172) MR writes to MV to tell her to be aware of M
  • 173) MV worries to MR that her daughter slept w. D, + describes M’s pulbix humiliation at the opera after they learned about her letters
  • 174) D writes to MR to regret the evil in society that must have corrupted C
  • 175) MV composes letter to MR to describe fate of M – seems that she got smallpox, got horribly disfigured, became bankrupted by her lawsuit + was forced to flee to Holland
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