Les Liaisons Dangereuses

“Did you not know that only pleasure has the right to take the bandage from love’s eyes? But what am I saying? What need has Madame de Tourvel of illusions? To be adorable she has only to be herself. You accuse her of being ill-dressed. I agree. Clothes don’t become her. Everything that hides her, disfigures. It is in the freedom of dishabille that she is truly ravishing. Thanks to the present overpowering heat that she wears only a simple linen gown which reveals her supple, rounded figure. A single muslin kerchief covers her breasts, and my covert but searching glances have already grasped their enchanting contours. Her face, you say, is inexpressive. But what is it to express at moments when nothing touches her heart? No, she is not of course one of your coquettes with their deceptive looks that are sometimes seductive, but always false. She does not know how to disguise an empty phrase with a studied smile; and, although she has the most beautiful teeth in the world, she laughs only when she is amused. If you could see, when she is playful, what a picture she makes of frank and simple gaiety, how, when she is beside some unfortunate she is anxious to help, her eyes shine with innocent joy and compassionate kindness! If you could see, especially at the slightest word of praise or flattery, how her divine features colour with that touching embarrassment which springs from an entirely artless modesty!…She is chaste and devout: you therefore judge her cold and lifeless. I think very much differently. What an astonishing sensibility she must have, if her feelings extend even to her husband, if she can continue to love a man whom she never sees! What more certain proof could you wish for? I have, however, discovered yet another.” – The Vicomte de Valmont


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