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Comte de Lautréamont
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chants de Maldoror: suivi de Lettres, Poésies I et II

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  2,676 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
André Breton wrote that Maldoror is "the expression of a revelation so complete it seems to exceed human potential." Little is known about its pseudonymous author aside from his real name (Isidore Ducasse), birth in Uruguay (1846), and early death in Paris (1870). Lautréamont's writings bewildered his contemporaries, but the Surrealists modeled their efforts after his lawl ...more
387 pages
Published 1977 by Presses de la Renaissance (first published 1869)
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D. J.
Nov 11, 2007 D. J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of the most experimental, strange and horrifically beautiful books on the planet. A dream-like monument to man's imagination. One part 'Frankenstein' and one part 'Faust'. Epic in scope. Poetic in form. Gothic in style. Completely surreal.
Back in the day, when I was young and passionate, I decided I had to read this book, and so I ordered it from our local bookshp and waited 7 weeks until I finally was summoned to come and get it.
That evening when the house was finally quiet,I built up a nice fire and poured myself a glass of wine. Cosy and prepared for an exquisite read,I was surprised to read first the authors note: reader, if you love this life, do not read this book. But I am brave, I thought, continuing.
A few more pages,the
Henry Martin
What to say about Maldoror that hasn't been said yet? What to say about the mysterious son of a diplomat who appeared in France, wrote this book and died, vanishing from the world, yet leaving his mark for decades and centuries yet to come?

The first time I had the pleasure of reading this exceptional work, I was taken aback. Barely seventeen, I hungrily swallowed the disturbing images leaping at me from the pages, not to fully comprehend them until years later. This work, over a century old, is
Mar 26, 2011 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: symbolism, horror, fantasy
It is interesting to think that around 1870, when Arthur Rimbaud's celebrity was international and at its peak, there was another young man writing sick prose of a similar quality. He was Isidore Ducasse and he died in the gutter, never to gain the adoration Rimbaud enjoyed.

Perhaps there's a reason for this. Les Chants are uneven and sometimes of suspect quality: this is especially seen in the second section of Canto II, where, after giving a typically Ducassian, abandon-all-hope warning diatrib
Oct 04, 2012 Guido rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isidore Ducasse nacque a Montevideo, studiò in Francia, pubblicò i Canti di Maldoror e le Poesie, scomparve. L'introduzione a questa edizione riporta una testimonianza di chi seguì con lui i corsi di retorica e filosofia al Lycée impérial di Pau: «La sua immaginazione si rivelò compiutamente in un discorso francese in cui aveva colto l'occasione per accumulare, con un terribile lusso di epiteti, le più spaventose immagini della morte: tutto un susseguirsi di ossa spezzate, viscere penzolanti, ca ...more
Cymru Roberts
The Count wrote this despicable (and I mean that as a compliment) poetic novel when he was 22 and it shows. It burns with the passion of someone who still believes in absolutes, believes he is cursed forever, has given up trying to reclaim what is already lost (innocence, faith), renounces the world and refuses to repent. In this sense it is both a nice reminder and a grim memory of that turbulent time in life.

Many of the sections read like black metal lyrics, which is cool, but also means they
Oct 06, 2016 Melusina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A poetic tale in prose, laying out evil in the character of Maldoror, this book is certainly a very different and special ride through murder, sadism and extremely odd and often very surprising images of nature. From the smallest (flees) to the biggest (sharks), it plays around with metaphors and hallucinations of all kinds and no critic has been able to pigeonhole it so far. What is certainly known is that it served as a kind of manifesto for the French surrealists and went way beyond the conve ...more
Sep 01, 2010 Hatebeams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lautreamont is an aesthete of the highest order - the most grotesque, sadistic or revolting images will as often as not serve to counter some prior helping of the innocent or exquisite. The result is always something incisive, revelatory, profound. Maldoror's devotion to evil and continuous violations of the good seem to answer an underlying amorality in the universe at large - his philosophy is one of impious disgust at the hypocrisy of a God (represented as a guilt-ridden incontinent syphiliti ...more
Jun 13, 2007 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this because Vollmann talks about it so much, and this book itself is filled with "beautiful sentences," as William T likes to talk about, plus it's published by Exact Change, AKA Damon & Naomi, formerly of Galaxie 500.
Oct 20, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definite 4.75

Which modern artists has not been grazed by the breadth of this beacon of pure & wild voltage. Lautreamont’s intelligence cuts to the bone of previous geniuses. He wears their epidermis like a morbid costume sniffing about the insides of their fatty & decaying residuals. He transposes the projection of earth’s rotation & builds his own orbit into the future. He purposely attempts difficult structures of syntax which can lead the reader astray or turn the casual reader of
Aug 04, 2013 Roewoof rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a certain way to approach this book.

If you try to read it like a normal book, like a regular piece of prose, you'll have to get out a notebook, and then reread the same paragraphs over and over again. It took me a long time to get through this work, because of the nature in which this was written.

This book is extremely beautiful, and very well crafted. However, when you read it, you need to look at it like you would a piece of abstract art. See the whole picture first, then look closer
Comte de Lautréamont has to be the single most perplexing yet obviously talented author I've discovered since Louis-Ferdinand Céline. (why are these types almost always French?) Since he died at the age of 24, his complete works fit into less than 400 pages the bulk of which is taken up by a bizarre gothic novel titled "The Songs of Maldoror".

The title character is an Antichrist-like figure who does not just oppose the Judeo-Christian god, depicted here as a cross between the less moral gods of
Printable Tire
Man, where to start? First off, admittedly superficially, I hate the edition of the book: I hate its stupid awkward size, I hate the sleep-inducing font, I hate the snotty and obscure introductions, I hate the David Lynch ripoff cover.

I'll read an entire page and totally forget what I just read completely. Nothing is holding my interest! Very rarely can I not simply ABSORB what I'm reading; here it just washed over me without sinking in. The only other time I can remember this happening is with
Marcus Mennes
Jun 26, 2008 Marcus Mennes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite line from Maldoror is, "...laugh but weep at the same time. If you cannot weep with your eyes, weep with your mouth. If this is still impossible, urinate. But I warn you, some sort of liquid is needed here..." which pretty much sums up the book's thesis. This book is (for lack of a better adjective) dark. It is also weird and funny. The laughter released is based in the gut, a coarse, foolish, belly laugh. It is distinct from the throaty chuckling made in response to some polite quip ...more
Jan 29, 2008 Radoslaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: why have they strayed far from the swamp?
The ultimate! You think that Artaud had a bit of rage for the human race and its creator? You think that American Psycho effectively satirizes the pettiness and cruelty of society by means of exaggeration? This book goes well above and beyond all that. Seriously, you are not metal anything until you have made your way through these "sombre, poison-filled pages." I just cannot believe how good this book is EVERY time I read it. Get this edition too, the translator's ranting about the quality of p ...more
albin james
Dec 28, 2016 albin james rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-best
The Chants are brilliant and the clarity is fascinating and humbling. The hard work and intensity makes this a genuine work of art, literature, Mathematics and Physics. The poèsies, letters and the few apocryphal writing are brilliant as well, though very different in style from the Chants. The lucidity of the "psychic explosion" going on here makes his work "as beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella!" =)
Mar 17, 2008 W.B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually find it hard to believe this author really existed. His strange disappearance would only seem to confirm the possibility that he was some sort of weird literary X-man jumping between dimensions who stopped here briefly.

The works can be ridiculously sadistic and cruel, but are never less than inspired (even if in that total madman way).
Ian Drew Forsyth
Quotes from Intro:
Contains its own built in criticism
Mixes genres, deal in paradox and parody and make abrupt transitions whether thematic or stylistic, ensures a stimulating and multifaceted, rather than an easy or easily classifiable, read.
Opposes the Deity and indeed all authority that cramps the spirit.
Mixed genres of prose-poetry, poetic prose, the Gothic fantasy, the serial novel, horror and humor, authorial interventions, disruptions of space and time, stories-within-stories, plagiarisms
Annie Chuiton
"...contre les étoiles au nord, contre les étoiles à l'est, contre les étoiles au sud, contre les étoiles à l'ouest ; contre la lune..."

"Moi, comme les chiens, j'éprouve le besoin de l'infini..."

"Pourtant je sens que je respire !"

"Vieil Océan, il n'y aurait rien d'impossible à ce que tu caches en ton sein de futures utilités pour l'homme. Tu lui as déjà donné la baleine. Tu ne laisse pas facilement deviner aux yeux avides des sciences naturelles les mille secrets de ton intime organisation : tu
Alex Obrigewitsch
This volume is excellent for studying the small volume of works by Lautreamont/Ducasse (who I shall henceforth refer to as L/D; the shifting displacement of identity is central to these works).

In a sense these works are at the heights of literature, dissolving in their very creation or unfolding. As well, they seem to have consumed their writer to the point of his non-existence. Having left no memoir (as he says in the Poésies), all that is left of him, all that remains, are these two short work
I'm not sure I can give this a number of stars. Would it be five for the total apocalyptic brilliance of the language or 0 for the deeply, astonishingly sick & twisted content? I'm not one to keep reading horrifying things; I don't watch horror movies and I avoid the worst of the news. But Maldoror is something special, a book about evil that is perversely about poetry. If it had been written now I might feel less inclined to love it, but with Rimbaud and Baudelaire for contemporaries it's a ...more
"Les Chants de Maldoror" is a book not to be reached for idly or consumed casually. No, it is a book to which one must devote his whole person, offering a portion of the soul to its pages. Maldoror is a work that celebrates violence and cruelty, denying any goodness in life while affirming its possibilities, its protagonist, a lone figure who stands in opposition to god, man, and all goodness.

Ducasse's prose is hallucinatory, every word, every phrase drips with opium metaphor and luciferian voc
Jun 26, 2013 George rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whether or not you consider the author to be serious in his defamation of God and his repugnance aimed both towards himself and the reader, he is certainly sincere in his seething hatred.

Of course, he changed completely when he wrote Poesies, however that's not why you're buying this book. That's not what made this book infamous. It's Les Chants that's drawn you in. But it's really not at all what it's been cracked up to be: the writing style is far too lugubrious to be enjoyed (ironically, the
Diego Prado
Feb 08, 2017 Diego Prado rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antes que nada debo admitir que no leí la segunda parte de las poesías y que las cartas le bajaron un poco la categoría al conde en sí (realmente sonaba desesperado y arrepentido de haber escrito los cantos)

Dicho eso me fascina la retórica que tiene y la forma de mezclar hechos profundos y mundanos entre frases simples pero delicadas. Y me encanta que haya logrado asquearme un par de veces.

Un libro para leer con dedicación (y me llevó cerca de un año completarlo)
Thom Sutton
Mar 12, 2012 Thom Sutton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

All the outrageous and decadent perversion of de Sade or Bataille filtered through a wittier, more poetic absurdist tongue. Maldoror is really fantastically well-written, with a mindbendingly clever turn of phrase turning up at least once per page, and has exactly the sort of snottily humorous tone you'd expect from 'the first surrealist novel'. I enjoyed it a lot, though it's possibly the sort of thing you have to be under 25 to not find insufferable.

My rating only really applies to Maldoror. A
Nov 21, 2013 Kyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm probably never going to read the Poesies, so this is only about Maldoror.

Um. Some of the most profoundly disturbing imagery I've ever come across inside lots of overly-odd vignettes.

The fact that it's a translation makes me wonder if the French original was as frequently off-putting. Lykiard notes the Lautréamont would often make complex puns using three languages.

As a whole, it's overwhelmingly weird—that it was adopted by the Surrealists surprises no one—it shifts from frank and squirming
This is a book that would have been more favorable to my tastes at a different time in my life. By the time I read it, my interest in this darker subject matter hadn't waned, really, but was like a magnet on a different polarity than what Ducasse (Lautréamont) was writing.

This book would be well-placed on the same shelf with Morrison's Lords and the New Creatures, Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, and Gentry/Bugliosi's Helter Skelter, to be read when you're 13-14. I would have probably liked it more a
Dec 07, 2007 Jenna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the most bizarre books I've ever read (and it probably didn't help that it was in French). As a surrealist novel, the book has no identifiable plot and the character of Maldoror is absolutely evil. The book was pretty fascinating and it made me want to read more surrealist literature. The copy of the book that I own also has a lot of Ducasse's poetry in it, some of which is absolutely beautiful. Defnitely worth the read if you can find a copy in English (I can't seem to find on ...more
Apr 01, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to need to read this again, because I read it in the worst possible way. It's one of those books that if I had read it in almost any other context (time, place, method) it would have probably received 5 stars. The prose is unbelievable and the content truly shocking and perverse, but I can't strike the nagging feeling that maybe the tone is off and that it's not quite as deep as it needs to be. As far as surrealism goes, though, it's close to perfect.
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Comte de Lautréamont (French pronunciation: [lotʁeaˈmɔ]) was the pseudonym of Isidore Lucien Ducasse, an Uruguayan-born French poet.

His only works, Les Chants de Maldoror and Poésies, had a major influence on modern literature, particularly on the Surrealists and the Situationists. Les Chants de Maldoror is often described as the first surrealist book. He died at the young age of 24 years old.
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“I sought a soul that might resemble mine, and I could not find it. I scanned all the crannies of the earth: my perseverance was useless. Yet I could not remain alone. There had to be someone who would approve of my character; there had to be someone with the same ideas as myself. It was morning. The sun in all his magnificence rose on the horizon, and behold, there also appeared before my eyes a young man whose presence made flowers grow as he passed. He approached me and held out his hand: “I have come to you, you who seek me. Let us give thanks for this happy day.” But I replied: “Go! I did not summon you. I do not need your friendship… .” It was evening. Night was beginning to spread the blackness of her veil over nature. A beautiful woman whom I could scarcely discern also exerted her bewitching sway upon me and looked at me with compassion. She did not, however, dare speak to me. I said: “Come closer that I may discern your features clearly, for at this distance the starlight is not strong enough to illumine them.” Then, with modest demeanour, eyes lowered, she crossed the greensward and reached my side. I said as soon as I saw her: “I perceive that goodness and justice have dwelt in your heart: we could not live together. Now you are admiring my good looks which have bowled over more than one woman. But sooner or later you would regret having consecrated your love to me, for you do not know my soul. Not that I shall be unfaithful to you: she who devotes herself to me with so much abandon and trust — with the same trust and abandon do I devote myself to her. But get this into your head and never forget it: wolves and lambs look not on one another with gentle eyes.” What then did I need, I who rejected with disgust what was most beautiful in humanity!” 46 likes
“Although according to certain philosophers it is quite difficult to distinguish the jester from the melancholic, life itself being a comic drama or a dramatic comedy.” 20 likes
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