CHODERLOS DE LACLOS, PIERRE AMBROISE FRANÇOIS
Les Liasons Dangereuses [illustrated by George Barbier]. Paris: Le Vasseur et Cie, 1934
2 volumes, large 4to, copy number 482 of 720 copies, one of 650 copies on Rives, vignette on limitation leaf and pictorial title-page repeated in each volume, 20 full-page colour plates, 2 pictorial initials and vignettes, half crushed burgundy morocco, spines gilt with green morocco lettering-pieces, uncut, volume I retaining upper printed wrapper.
"I resolved to write a book that would be quite outside the ordinary trend, which would make a sensation and echo over the world after I left it" (Choderlos de Laclos)
The author’s first and only novel, published in 1782, caused an immediate sensation, selling 1,000 copies within a month of publication. Written in epistolary form, the book follows the story of the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil, former lovers, as they seduce a cast of characters and each other, taking delight in the manipulation and misery. The novel is set in the final years of the Ancien Régime and explores the erotic psychology of sex, power and revenge.
The novel was banned in France for sixty years from 1815-1875 and held a prominent place on the Vatican Index Librorum Prohibitorum until 1966.
George Barbier (1882–1932) was a French illustrator at the forefront of theatre, ballet and fashion illustration. Receiving both critical acclaim and mainstream popularity for his designs, Barbier and his colleagues, dubbed "The Knights of the Bracelet" by Vogue, defined the illustrative style of 1920s Paris. In 1923 he was commissioned to design the sets and costumes for the Folies Bergère in collaboration with Erte. In 1929, the artist produced a suite of illustrations for Choderlos de Laclos’ infamous novel which was published five years later in this deluxe limited edition.
Over 200 years later, the legacy of Les Liaisons has been an enduring one with triumphant adaptations produced for the theatre, ballet, opera and screen, most notably the 1988 film of the same name, and the later 1999 film Cruel Intentions, which sets the story in the upper echelons of modern-day New York society.
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