A new translation soon to be available in amazon and barnes and noble.
Isidore-Lucien Ducasse (1846-1870), Comte de Lautréamont
Chants of Maldoror
Isidore-Lucien Ducasse, an Uruguayan-born French poet wrote Les Chants de Maldoror and Poésies, unique literary works that have had a major influence on modern literature, unlike any other poetic work, considering that he was only twenty-four years old when he died.
Not much is known about the life of Isidore Lucien Ducasse, the name that lurks behind the pseudonym Count Lautréamont. The son of a French consular officer, Isidore was born in Montevideo where he passed his early years.
Later, he was sent to France for highs school, studying at the imperial lycées in Tarbes (1859–62) and Pau (1863–65). He set out for Paris in 1867, to attend the École Polytechnique, but soon he disappeared into obscurity.
Fifty years after his death, Lautréamont is resurrected by the Surrealists, who in their manifesto declare that it is their only real source of inspiration, saying hyperbolically: “Lautréamont is to the surrealists, as Jesus Christ is to Christians.” That is just one example among countless others.
About the Chants of Maldoror
Defiant, Insolent, and irreverent, the Chants de Maldoror, by the self-named Comte de Lautréamont, depicts a sinister and sadistic world of unrestrained vulgarity, savagery, and brutality. This poetic narrative follows the experiences of Maldoror: a master of disguises pursued by angels, animals, and monsters for being the incarnation of evil.
The author knew his work dealt with evil as he wrote to his publisher:
“Let me begin by explaining my position. I have written of evil, as Mickiewicz, Byron, Milton, Southey, A. de Musset, Baudelaire, etc., have all done. Naturally I have exaggerated the pitch along the lines of that sublime literature which sings of despair only to cast down the reader and make him desire the good as the remedy.”
While ordinary people live in the midst of reveries, daydreams, common dreams, and nightmares, Maldoror lives in a continuous psychotic hallucination in which he encounters angels, gravediggers, hermaphrodites, lunatics, prostitutes, and innocent and not so innocent children, whom he victimizes—prey of his self-proclaimed pederasty.
Delirious, erotic, blasphemous, yet seductive and grandiose in language and imagery, this hallucinatory novel captured the imagination of artists and writers as diverse as Verlaine, Gide, Breton, Octavio Paz—and Salvador Dali in painting. Readers seeking a conventional narrative will be surprised, for the author spares no effort to dislocate linear time, disguising voices and appearances, to penetrate the depths of animate and inanimate sojourners on their way to death.