05.09.

1803: The Author of Dangerous Liaisons and Inventor of the Explosive Shell

1803: The Author of Dangerous Liaisons and Inventor of the Explosive Shell
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 5 September 1803
  • It is interesting to note that Laclos was also a soldier, and held the rank of general. Even the French queen Marie Antoinette read his controversial novel, Dangerous Liaisons.

The author of Dangerous Liaisons (French: Les Liaisons Dangereuses), one of the most famous novels of the 18th century, died on this day at the age of 61.

There are many film adaptations of this novel (at least seven), but the most famous is probably the 1988-adaptation with John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close, Uma Thurman and Keanu Reeves. The film won three Oscars.

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos was a Frenchman born in Amiens in 1741. His family was very wealthy, and it is interesting to note that Laclos was also a soldier, and writing was his hobby.

Laclos had significant career in the army, and even held the rank of general. He received a good education in the field of science and technology, and mostly dealt with artillery and fortification construction after he joined army.

Laclos allegedly invented an artillery projectile filled with explosives. Earlier, cannons had been capable of firing only metal balls (there was no explosive charge).

After the beginning of the French Revolution, Laclos was arrested by the revolutionaries, but was eventually released. He was lucky because he had supported the young Napoleon Bonaparte, who came to power in France.

As his supporter, Laclos was appointed brigadier general in the famous Rhine Army, and later became the supreme commander in Italy.

General Laclos served in the military in the Italian city of Taranto when he died. The cause of death was an infectious disease, probably malaria or dysentery.

He wrote Dangerous Liaisons when he was about 38 years old (approximately 10 years before the French Revolution).

At that time, he worked as an engineer officer during the construction of the military fortress on the island of Île-d’Aix. Interestingly, that was the last refuge of Napoleon Bonaparte before his surrender to the British.

Dangerous Liaisons achieved success in France, even before the Revolution. The French queen Marie Antoinette also read his controversial novel.

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