Friday, 13 June 2014

La Marquise de Merteuil

"You'll find the shame is like the pain, you only feel it once." ~ Marquise de Merteuil


What you call happiness is nothing but a tumult in the 
mind, a tempest of passion, frightful to behold even for 
the spectator on the shore

(Ce que vous appelez le bonheur, n'est qu'un tumulte des 

sens, un orage des passions dont le spectacle est 
effrayant, même à le regarder du rivage)

Marquise de Merteuil

"Well, I had no choice, did I? I'm a woman. Women are obliged to be far more skillful than men. You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words. So, of course, I had to invent not only myself, but ways of escape no one has ever thought of before. And I've succeeded because I've known I was always born to dominate your sex and avenge my own... When I came out into society, I was 15. I already knew that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I learned how to look cheerful while under the table I stuck a fork into the back of my hand. I became a virtuoso of deceit. It wasn't pleasure I was after, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with. And in the end, I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die...If I want a man, I have him. If he wants to tell, he finds that he can't. That's the whole story."

Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont

...pleasure, which is undeniably the sole motive force behind the union of the sexes, is nevertheless not enough to form a bond between them...even if it is preceded by desire which impels, it is succeeded by disgust which repels. This is a law of nature which only love can change

(Le plaisir, qui est bien en effet l'unique mobile de la réunion des deux sexes, ne suffit pourtant pas pour former une liaison entre eux..., s'il est précédé du désir qui rapproche, il n'est pas moins suivi du dégoût qui repousse. C'est une loi de la nature, que l'amour seul peut changer.)

Marquise de Merteuil

Vicomte de Valmont: You see, I have no intentions of breaking down her prejudices. I want her to believe in God and virtue and the sanctity of marriage, and still not be able to stop herself. I want the pleasure of watching her betray everything that is most important to her. Surely you can understand that. I thought betrayal was your favorite word. 

Marquise de Merteuil: No, no..."cruelty." I always think that has a nobler ring to it.


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