by Vivant Denon, introduction by Peter Brooks, translated from the French by Lydia Davis
Vivant Denon’s No Tomorrow is one of the masterpieces of eighteenth-century French libertine literature, a book to set beside Choderlos de Laclos’ Les Liaisons dangereuses, except that where Laclos’ icy novel tells of hellish depravity, Denon’s ravishing novella is a paradisal diversion. This tale of seduction is itself a seduction, with a plot that could be said to slowly unveil itself before arriving at last at an unexpected consummation.
Summoned by Madame de T—— to her country house, the young hero of Denon’s novella is taken on a tour of the grounds, only the beginning of a night that not only will be full of unanticipated delights but will give rise to unforeseen, perhaps unanswerable, questions. Lydia Davis’s definitive translation of Denon’s slim masterpiece is accompanied by the French text. Peter Brooks’s illuminating introduction explores the mysteries of No Tomorrow‘s original publication and the subtleties of Denon’s ethics of pleasure.
A tale of adulterous love told with impeccable discretion. Balzac liked it so much that he cited it in full in his Physiologie du mariage, warning off husbands while recommending it to bachelors as "a delicious painting of manners of the last century."
— The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French
Denon's tale portrays the Epicurean aspects of slowness.
— The Boston Globe
Captures with concision and panache the spirit of Libertinage so central to eighteenth-century French sociability...No Tomorrow is a tour de force of disabused analysis summarizing all the manipulations, illusions, and self-deceptions which were the essence of eighteenth-century libertinage.
— Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature