Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses. In real-time. Join up and read along.
How does this work, then? Les Liaisons Dangereuses is an epistolary novel, meaning that it's written as a series of letters. On this community, they'll be appearing on the day they're dated, starting with Cécile Volanges's first letter on the 3rd of August, with a couple of editorial prefaces just before that. The novel finishes in December with a single letter later in January, so we've got about five months.
The only posts appearing in this community will be the instalments of the novel itself (plus an occasional discussion roundup post if it's warranted), so you can read along just by adding it to your friendslist.
Will it be in French or in English? The novel will be in the original French, for the simple reason that the only e-texts we could find were in French. This community has been set up in English, so the discussions will be primarily in English, but there's nothing stopping you from starting threads in French if you wish.
If your French is weak, don't worry too much: the language is fairly easy, and many of us have terribly rusty French and will be using this as an opportunity to brush up on it by reading manageable segments at a time. If your French is really poor or non-existent, nothing's stopping you reading the excerpts in a translation if you own one; note that the letters don't appear in exactly the same order as the novel, they appear in chronological order instead. You can always follow along with both the French and a translation at the same time, for instance. If you wish to put quotations in your comments in translation, then please include the original French as well if you can.
A Spanish-language version of this community is running at lasamistades.
Are we discussing it as we go along? Sort of. You won't be able to post (unless you're one of the characters in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, who each have their own LJ account), but everyone will be able to comment, and we'll probably get some centralised discussion point set up if enough people seem interested. Feel free to share your thoughts, your theories, your detailed feminist reading of various seductions or your happy squeeing that various characters finally shacked up. Just don't yell at other people, or we'll ban you. Please remember that discussions should be about Laclos' novel rather than film or stage adaptations, though occasional comparisons of those with the novel are welcome.
Of course, you're perfectly free to just read along in silence too. Since we've got around five months, it's a great opportunity for anyone who's always meant to read Les Liaisons Dangereuses and never quite got round to it, or who's been putting off tackling it in French. (You know you want to.)
Whatever you do, if you've read the book before, please don't spoil it for anyone who hasn't. That means beginning your comment with a spoiler warning (nice and clear, with SPOILER marked in bold at the very least) if it contains any information about what lies ahead.
So, this is the actual text of the book? It's the entire text of the novel, as published in 1782, but the format here requires a couple of changes: - Here, the documents will be posted in strict chronological order; in the novel, they're sometimes mixed around a little. - Laclos didn't use hyperlinks. Here, if someone's letter talks about an earlier letter, there'll be a link to that within the post. Hopefully this'll clear up any confusion the first issue creates.
Oh, no! You've already started! Feel free to join and catch up in your own time, if you like. (There are quiet periods during the novel's timespan when there'll be few or no posts at all.)
Are there any other real-time readings of epistolary novels out there? Yes indeed. This community was inspired by dracula1897, which is running from May to November 2006 (and may be read in the Spanish translation at draculadiario); grateful thanks to eye_of_a_cat, whose design and user info for dracula1897 we have borrowed from. There will hopefully be a real-time reading of Richardson's mammoth novel Clarissa starting in January 2007.
LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES ou LETTRES Recueillies dans une société, et publiées pour l'instruction de quelques autres.
Par M.C... de L...
"J'ai vu les mœurs de mon temps et j'ai publié ces lettres." J. J. ROUSSEAU, Préface de La Nouvelle Héloïse