Les Héroïnes de la Littérature Française - La Marquise de Merteuil

"Les Héroïnes de la Littérature Française - La Marquise de Merteuil" has been shared to the blog from the French reading exercises section of the learning library where you can find a large selection of interactive texts to help you with your reading skills. This article also has audio for you to practice your French listening skills; you can find many more listening activities in the French listening practice section.

At the end of the 18th century, the epistolary novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” follows the intrigues of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two amoral libertines who amuse themselves by ruining others and who ultimately destroy each other. Mastering the art of manipulation and deceit to her own ends, the Marquise is a fascinating literary figure, the polar opposite of her contemporary heroines. As part of our series “Les Héroïnes de la Littérature Française”, (re)discover this ambivalent femme fatale and how she was a heroine ahead of her time in our article below.

After listening to the audio, click any word for the English translation and links to related grammar lessons.

Note: The tenses in this French article and its English translation don’t match! In French, we use the present tense to describe historical stories like this to evoke a sense of immediacy, whereas in English, we commonly use the past tense – learn more about historical French tenses.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Click any word in the text to see its translation and related grammar lessons.


Author info

Aurélie Drouard

Aurélie is our resident French Expert. She has created most of the wonderful content you see on the site and is usually the person answering your tricky help questions. She comes from a small village near Chartres in Central France, country of cereal fields and not much else. She left (in a hurry) to study English at the world-famous Sorbonne in Paris, before leaving France in 2007 to experience the “London lifestyle” - and never looked back! She's worked as a professional French teacher, translator and linguist in the UK since.  She loves to share her love of languages and is a self-professed cinema and literature geek!