Can some Gentle Reader explain to me what Les Liaisons Dangereuses is about? The Christopher Hampton play, I mean, although I’d also love to know what is appealing about any other version of the novel, including the novel itself. I mean, other than being sexy; it’s clearly a wonderful opportunity to watch Alan Rickman (or John Malkovich or Colin Firth) (or Ryan Phillipe or Rupert Everett) (or Gérard Philipe or Yong-jun Bae or Jean-Pierre Bouvier or Juraj Kukura) being all sexy and whatnot, and I understand that may well be enough. But is that all the play is about?
Seriously, I’m perplexed. I don’t understand why Valmont behaves the way he does, or how the audience is supposed to feel about the way he behaves, or what we are supposed to take away from the whole thing. I don’t understand what Mr. Hampton (or Choderlos de Laclos in the novel I haven’t read) is on about. The only thing I can think of is that it’s an up-against-the-wall-motherfuckers play about the excess of the (nineteen-) eighties and the coming revolution (that didn’t come). Even then, it’s incredibly trivial, as surely the least of the reasons for the revolution was or should be the sexual habits of the rich. The meddling of the Marquise and the Vicomte does nobody any harm, or at least nobody but a few dupes we can’t really have any sympathy for, particularly when the ‘harm’ is a fiction of society. Or is it saying that sex really is important, that love, even between dishonest and annoying people, is valuable, and that the wickedest thing is recreational sex?
Or is it just a bit of fun, and I’m reaching for a meaning that was never there?
chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,