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Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont
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Maldoror (1869)

by Comte de Lautréamont

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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596625,063 (4.07)39
  1. 10
    The Saga of Grettir the Strong by Anonymous (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: These two chaps have a lot in common.
  2. 00
    The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire (Anonymous user)
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» See also 39 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
So pervasive was the language and imagery of Lautréamont’s “Les Chant de Maldoror” that I often laughed out loud—not a common event with literature. Especially from a work written nearly a hundred and fifty years ago. There is no real narrative, so to speak, told more like a fever dream rendered into prose poem and peppered with more exclamation points than a Gothic novel of the late eighteenth century (Astonishment!!!). Yet it was the perfect piece of fantastic fiction to read between customer service calls. There was nothing any entitled human piss-bag miffed over not getting confirmation of a 4X4 on their Suburban for their three-person golf outing was going to say to shock, anger or even annoy me after reading passages such as those below. Enjoy.

“If the earth were covered with lice like grains of sand on the sea shore the human race would be annihilated in the midst of terrible suffering. What a spectacle! And I, with the wings of an angel, motionless in the air, contemplating it!”

“With a head in my hand, gnawing the skull, I stood on one foot like a heron at the edge of a precipice slashed into the flanks of a mountain. I was seen descending into the valley while the flesh of my bosom was still and calm as the lid of a tomb!”

“ . . . however it is permitted to us all to kill flies and even rhinoceroses in order to rest from time to time from too much tedious labor.”

“I have never been able to laugh, though I have tried many times. It is very difficult to learn how to laugh. Or rather I think a feeling of repugnance toward that monstrosity forms an essential distinction of my character. Very well then, I witnessed something even funnier: I saw a fig eating a donkey! And yet I did not laugh: frankly there was no movement of any buccal portion. The desire to weep seized upon me so strongly that my eyes let fall a tear. ‘Nature! Nature!’ I cried, sobbing. ‘The sparrow-hawk rends the sparrow, the fig eats the donkey, and the tapeworm devours mankind!’”

“I am filthy. Lice gnaws me. Swine, when they gaze upon me, vomit. Scabs and scars of leprosy have scaled off my skin, which exudes a yellowish pus. I know not the waters of rivers nor the dew from the clouds. From my nape, as from a dunghill, an enormous toadstool with umbelliferous peduncles is growing. Seated upon a shapeless throne I have not stirred hand nor foot for four centuries. My toes have taken root in the soil and have grown up around my belly in a kind of lush growth, neither plant nor flesh, where dwell vile parasites. Nevertheless, my heart is beating. Yet how could it beat if the rottenness and the reek of my cadaver (I dare not say my body) did not abundantly nourish it?”

“O, if only, instead of being in a hell, the universe had been an immense celestial anus! See the gesture I am making with my abdomen: yes, I would have plunged my penis through its bloody sphincter, rending apart by my impetuous motions the very bones of its pelvis!”

And this work was inspiring enough, throughout the years, still in print and revered by philosophers and writers, that several artists have drawn, inked and painted monstrosities of their own. An absurdist’s treasure for never straying from that one governing principle: to be as absurd as fucking possible. And to be as disgusting as humanly able wouldn’t hurt the effort, either. It’s been done, so I’ll never have to stir up the mold myself. Thank you, weird ass Frenchman/Uruguayan/Absurdist extraordinaire. ( )
  ToddSherman | Aug 24, 2017 |
copia 292/999
  vecchiopoggi | Jan 16, 2017 |
These are the songs of Maldoror: prose poems in the style of Baudelaire’s Le Spleen De Paris, organized into six cantos of between 5 to 16 stanzas each, first published in 1868, to almost universal neglect and uninterest.

Who is Maldoror? The text tells us that he was born evil; that he never cuts his fingernails so that he can pierce the breast of a child more easily therewith to drink its blood; that his breath exhales poison; that his forehead is furrowed green; that his face is like the face of some hideous deep-sea fish; that he lives alone in a cave, shunned by and shunning humanity; that he prowls the city at night wrapped in black; that he hasn’t slept for thirty years; that he was born deaf but that he developed the ability to hear; that he likes to have sex with prepubescent boys; that he is permanently tumescent; that he changes his clothes twice a week so as to save mankind from dying of their stench; that he is a shape-changer wanted by an army of spies and agents throughout Europe; that he loves the cold purity of mathematics; that he has assisted at the revolutions of the globe and been a silent witness to cataclysms and disasters; that he only has one eye in the centre of his forehead; and finally, in the last canto, there is the suggestion that Maldoror is Lucifer himself, the devil with a myriad names...

Read the full review on The Lectern ( )
6 vote tomcatMurr | Jun 22, 2014 |
Recommended by NE, who recommends Bushmill's to go with it, as a follow-up to de Quincey.
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
A fierce and poisonous bit of stuff. An angry howl of rebellion. Sometimes goes even a bit too far, but I appreciate his youth and honesty in retelling all this. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lautréamont, Comte deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caruso, SantiagoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lijsen, C.N.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lykiard, AlexisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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May it please heaven that the reader, emboldened and having for the time being as fierce as what he is reading, should, without being led astray, find his rugged and treacherous way across the desolate swamps of these sombre and poison-filled pages; for, unless he brings to his reading a rigorous logic and a tautness of mind equal at least to his wariness, the deadly emanations of this book will dissolve his soul as water does sugar.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811200825, Paperback)

This macabre but beautiful work, Les Chants de Maldoror, has achieved a considerable reputation as one of the earliest and most extraordinary examples of Surrealist writing.

Maldoror is a long narrative prose poem which celebrates the principle of Evil in an elaborate style and with a passion akin to religions fanaticism. The French poet-critic Georges Hugnet has written of Lautréamont: "He terrifies, stupefies, strikes dumb. He could look squarely at that which others had merely given a passing glance." When first published in 1868-69, Maldoror went almost unnoticed. But in the 1890s the book was rediscovered and hailed as a work of genius by such eminent writers as Huysmans, Léon Block, Maeterlinck, and Rémy de Gourmont. Later still, Lautréamont was to be canonized as one of their principal "ancestors" by the Paris surrealists. This edition, translated by Guy Wernham, includes also a long introduction to a never-written, or now lost, volume of poetry. Thus, except for a few letters, it gives all the surviving literary work of Lautréamont.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The macabre but beautiful work,Les Chants de Maldoror, has achieved a considerable reputation as one of the earliest and most extraordinary examples of Surrealist writing. It is a long narrative prose poem which celebrates the principle of Evil in an elaborate style and with a passion akin to religious fanaticism. The French poet-critic Georges Hugnet has written of Lautréamont: "He terrifies, stupefies, strikes dumb. He could look squarely at that which others had merely given a passing glance." Little is known of the author ofMaldoror, Isidore Ducasse, self-styled Comte de Lautréamont, except that he was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1846 and died in Paris at the age of twenty-four. When first published in 1868-9,Maldoror went almost unnoticed. But in the nineties the book was rediscovered and hailed as a work of genius by such eminent writers as Huysmans, Léon Bloy, Maeterlinck, and Rémy de Gourmont. Later still, Lautréamont was to be canonized as one of their principal "ancestors" by the Paris Surrealists. This edition, translated by Guy Wernham, includes also a long introduction to a never-written, or now lost, volume of poetry. Thus, except for a few letters, it gives all the surviving literary work of Lautréamont.… (more)

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