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Maldoror and the Complete Works

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  2,085 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Andre Breton described "Maldoror "as "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). Lautreamont bewildered his contemporaries, but the Surrealists modeled their efforts after his black humor an ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 30th 2010 by Exact Change (first published 1869)
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Maldoror and the Complete Works by Comte de LautréamontNadja by André BretonUbu Roi by Alfred JarryThe Hearing Trumpet by Leonora CarringtonZenobia by Gellu Naum
Best Surrealist or Dadaist Books
1st out of 42 books — 45 voters
1984 by George OrwellThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerAnimal Farm by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Cult Classics
132nd out of 600 books — 760 voters


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Community Reviews

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D. J.
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.
Magdelanye
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
...more
Guido
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
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
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Hatebeams
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
Paul
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
...more
Roewoof
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
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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
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Matthew
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
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Simon
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
...more
Printable Tire
Feb 19, 2010 Printable Tire marked it as to-read
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
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Marcus Mennes
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
W.B.
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).
Lee
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.
George
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
...more
Thom Sutton

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
...more
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
...more
Jericha
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
Emre Aydemir
bir gün annem, donuk gözlerle bakarak, bana şöyle demişti: “yatağında yatarken, kırlarda köpek havlamaları duyacak olursan, yorganının altına gizlen, yaptıklarını alaya alma: sonsuzluğun o tutkusu yatışmaz hasretini çekmektedir onlar, tıpkı senin gibi, benim gibi, tıpkı soluk, zayıf yüzlü öteki insanlar gibi. dahası, bu oldukça yüce görünümü pencereden seyretmene de izin veriyorum.” o gün bu gün, ölü anacığımın öğüdüne uyarım. ben de tıpkı köpekler gibi sonsuzluk gereksinimi duyuyorum.. ama, çar ...more
Kyle
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
...more
Chris Robideaux
With almost a God's-eye viewpoint, Lautreamont, the nom de plume of Isadore Ducasse, takes us on a spectral journey that builds on Poe and prefigures H.P. Lovecraft (and perhaps surpasses them both) in its scope of the weird, horrific, dark, but also the sympathetic with all the flora, fauna, and facets of a spoiled Eden. A definite must-read for the lover of literary fiction.
Tony Gualtieri
While I don't pretend to be an expert on 19th century Gothicism, Maldoror seems to me to be a unique presentation of evil in its most refined and unbridled form. A whole stream of 20th century experimental literature finds in source in these dark pages.
Gregoire
Impossible de classifier le Comte de Lautréamont A marqué son empreinte Même sans l'admirer on se doit de l'avoir lu attention le style n'a pas trop bien vieilli et il faut s'accrocher
kirkesque
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
...more
Radoslaw
Aug 04, 2009 Radoslaw rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Jenna
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
Josef
folks keep trying to explain this book.
GOOD LUCK!

My 13 year old daughter gave this to me as a birthday present. I gave away my last copy. This is by far the best english translation. I believe the translator Alexis Lykiard belong to my "Art" club in London: The Horse Hospital I met him there about 15 years ago.

This is one of those unbelievable books where you find yourself asking..."someone actually wrote the" many times.
Read it...you'll never forget it.
David
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.
Charlie
A book I had been meaning to read for ages and had read part of before than sat down. I finally picked it up again and started over. Some very great imagery here and no surprise it was such an influence to the surrealists. Certain parts drug on but I'm glad I bought the Exact Change edition as the translation is supposedly superior and the book itself looks great. Not for everyone a sense of dark humor is needed. As well as not being easily offended.
Joseph
Decadent prose poems by an early surrealist. Lacking in humor, rich with self-conscious and false irony. Found it terribly boring... until I realized that Bret Easton Ellis was riffing on this book in 'american psycho,' which I still think is one of the best recent satires of late capitalism. So, you can put this in the stack of books which are difficult but influential in a disturbing way....
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153341
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.
...more
More about Comte de Lautréamont...
Les Chants de Maldoror Maldoror and Poems Les Chants de Maldoror et autres textes Poésies Poésies and Complete Miscellanea

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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!” 35 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.” 15 likes
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