Love, Seduction in ‘Valmont’
After Madame Merteuil caused the death of our love and I so unfortunately parted with you upon her urging, my life has been of no avail. Too late did I come to grasp that it is she who has yoked us all to the carriage of her schemes. She has taken all of us hostage in her love games. I wanted to live for your happiness – and I
have destroyed it. I beseech you – return to my arms.”
The author of the famous epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Choderlos de Laclos, was a French army officer unable to satisfy his military ambitions and hence began devoting himself to literature. He wrote a number of poems and librettos, but is best known for Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782), a novel composed entirely of letters by the various characters to one another. The veracity of its action makes it the greatest work of its ilk. Almost 200 letters depict the relationship between two rakes who deform the noble ideas of philosophical libertinism into moral perversion.
For the sake of their amusement, the Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont interfere in other people’s lives and hatch schemes that ultimately bring about their downfall. Emotionless sensuality becomes an art of strategy, calculated to the finest detail, and this cynical approach to morality and human responsibility not only hurts the innocent victims but also turns against their tormentors themselves. On the surface, there is the seemingly faultless and immaculately mannered aristocratic elite, yet lifting the mask reveals the rotten core underneath…
This is the beginning of the full-length description of the Czech National Ballet’s Valmont, premiering June 26 and July 1. You can continue reading the full article (in English and in Czech) by clicking on the black “Re:Source” tab at the top of any page.
Photo Credits: Hana Smejkalová