Love and lies. The conflict of codes. The Conflict of Codes in Laclos’Liaisons dangereuses

Mauro Nervi


I argue that in Laclos' novel not only morality and immorality (or different forms of morality) but mainly two language codes are in competition with each other: the naive code, currently used by the majority, and the libertine code, mostly represented by the leading couple’s letters. The former is apparently consistent (even if it shows interesting nuances, especially in de Volanges and in de Rosemonde), while the latter is more depending on the addressee: sarcastic but reliable when addressing to his/her peer, the libertine is forced to simulate the naive code when writing to those who share the current morality. However, this pretence by the libertine always comes along with a subversive intention at many levels: ambiguity, irony, logical contradiction.


Laclos, Liaisons dangereuses, Diderot, XVIII century literature, Epistolary novel

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