Dangerous liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos

Besançon, France. The American Revolution begins.

1776 Toward the end of the year, Laclos becomes a Freemason (a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, a secret fraternal order).

1777 Laclos is sent to Valence, France, to direct the founding of an artillery school. "Épître à la mort" ("Epistle to Death") and "Sur Cette Question ..." ("On That Question ...") are published. He adapts Madame Riccoboni’s novel Ernestine as a comic opera; a production is staged in Paris near the year’s end.

1778 Following a return to Besançon, Laclos publishes "A Une Dame." Voltaire and Rousseau die.

1779 A poem, "Le bon Choix" ("The Good Choice"), is published. During this year, Laclos is assigned first to Rochefort and then to Aix, an island in the Bay of Biscay under the command of the Marquis de Montalembert. Around this time Laclos begins work on Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which he intends to be highly provocative.

1780 Laclos is again promoted, becoming commanding officer of gunners.

1781 He takes a six-month leave in Paris to finish his novel.

1782 Les Liaisons Dangereuses is published, with 4,000 copies released by April. Its explicit subject matter causes a sensation in France. Because Laclos portrays the book aas factual, there is much speculation about his moral character.

1783 Back in La Rochelle, Laclos meets his future wife, Marie-Soulange Duperré. Shortly after, he commences work on the tract De l’Education des Femmes (On the Education of Women), which be published posthumously.

1784 A son, Étienne-Fargeau, is born.

1786 Laclos and Marie-Soulange marry. Laclos publishes a paper highly critical of the esteemed military tactician Maréchal de Vauban, and military officials are furious. In the months following its publication, he is punished with a post in the desolate town of Metz.

1787 A new edition of Les Liaisons Dangereuses is published, which also includes Laclos’s poetry and his correspondence with Madame Riccoboni.

1788 Taking a leave of duty, Laclos becomes a top-level secretary to Philippe II (later known as Philippe Égalité), duc d’Orléans and cousin of King Louis XVI. The political atmosphere in this period just before the French Revolution is tense, and intrigues increase among Laclos’s associates. A daughter, Catherine-Soulange, is born.

1789 Laclos accompanies the Duc d’Orléans, who is suspected of being involved in riots against the king, on a hurried trip to England. The French Revolution begins. On August 26 the revolutionaries issue the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, which demands Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Freedom, Equality, Fraternity) for all citizens of France.

1790 Laclos returns to paris. He joins the revolutionary Jacobin Club and becomes editor of its publication. Le Journal des Amis de la Constitution (Journal of the Friends of the Constitution). He resigns from his position as secretary to Philippe Egalité, whose political ambitions are becoming increasingly suspect among the revolutionaries.

1792 Laclos helps organise a defense against the invading Prussian army, which is halted at the battle of Valmy. Louis XVI is tried for treason and convicted; the monarchy is abolished in favor of a repulic.

1793 Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette are guillotined in Paris. Maximilien Robespierre and his Committee of Public Safety establish the Reign of Terror, in which thousands of people convicted of treason are guillotined. Laclos is arrested and threatened with execution in April and again in November. Between arrests he designs a hollow artillery shell to replace the solid cannonball. Philippe Égalité is executed. The Muséum Central des Arts (later the Louvre Museum) opens to the public.

1794 Robespierre is overthrown, abd the Reign of Terror ends. Laclos is released from prison on December 1.

1795 At home in Paris, Laclos is present for the birth of his son Charles.

1796 French writer and philosopher Denis Diderot’s novel Jacques le Fataliste (Jacques the Fatalist) is published.

1799 On November 9 (18 Brumaire of the French Revolutionary calendar), Napoléon stages a coup d’état, in which he overthrows the Directory (the government set up during the Revolution). He becomes first consul of France, ending the Revolution. Laclos is again reinstated to the French army. In Egypt, French soldiers discover the Rosetta Stone, a crucial archaeological clue to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

1800 Now a brigadier general, Laclos takes part in Napoléon’s military campaigns in Italy. Madame de Staël’s De La Littérature Considérée dens Ses Rapports avec les Institutions Sociales (On Literature Considered in its Relationship to Social Institutions) is published.

1802 French author Victor Hugo is born.

1803 Napoléon sends Laclos to direct the fortification of an island off the coast of Taranto, Italy. Shortly after his arrival, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos dies, on September 5, after contracting dysentery and malaria.