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Maldoror and the Complete Works

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  2,952 ratings  ·  103 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 and ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 30th 2010 by Exact Change (first published 1869)
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4.28  · 
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 ·  2,952 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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D. J.
Nov 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Alejandro Saint-Barthélemy
1) Before reading Rimbaud I thought I would see fireworks; the problem was that I had read Lautréamont first.
(Michel Houellebecq)

2) After reading the last part of "Les Chants de Maldoror" I thought of giving up literature due to embarrassment of my own literary achievements.
(André Gide [in a diary entry, in 1905])

3) Lautréamont has been the biggest influence on my writing career. My books are toys for adults who have read Lautréamont.
(César Aira)

This book embraces both classical rules of art
Henry Martin
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Cymru Roberts
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: latin-american
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
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, fantasy, symbolism
Perhaps there's a reason why Lautréamont's celebrity never reached the heights achieved by his contemporary Athur Rimbaud. 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 diatribe, Ducasse devotes a few pages to the horrors of... writer's block. These are the "poison-filled pages" I've been warned about? A horrific description of Lautréamont's stalled creative pr ...more
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs
i loved this book !! :))) this is easily my favorite book ive read so far in my new lil journey of reading. it is a series of incredibly imaginative, engaging, fascinating, mysterious, sometimes dark and violent, almost always surreal ramblings or little stories, many of which are haunted by the presence of maldoror, a being of evil who seems to take many different forms throughout the book. despite how macabre it is at times, lautreamont's style is often charming and full of personality. i ofte ...more
Alex Obrigewitsch
Sep 28, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Isidore throughout his Maldoror seemed to be ever trying to convince me as a reader by his narrative commentary as to why I should continue to do so read [extolling his intelligence, wit, ingenuity over most other artistic contemporaries], while not providing any substance except endless speculation over trivialities and obsession with all manner of creatures: sphinxes, seagulls, hyenas, toads, snakes, flamingos, sharks, crabs, snails, bulldogs. The so-called dark/Gothic sections involve dismemb ...more
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Technically I've not read this in its entirety, but I've read the fantastic bits in it over and over for the last 10 years, so, this must count for something..
Bernardo Mozelli
I legit feel like I've been trolled. At some point in the book even Lautreamont himself admits he's just an edgy fuck who likes to ramble on. I'm not even gonna bother giving this shit one star.
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
M.J. Boyd
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Cruelty is the muse. A book so heinous that after reading it you have no choice but to flee and cling to the good in the world. It worked - I'll absolutely never touch this book again.
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
Marcus Mennes
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Printable Tire
Feb 19, 2010 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
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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).
Tomas Boudreau
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lautréamont's writing is painful, haunting, and liberating all at once. I recommend reading this collection along side Nietzsche and Hogg.
Ian 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
Tristan Goding
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Let's face it, we all love our "enfant terribles". Well, few are more terrible than de Lautrémont, who is either the most insane youngster of the French literary world, or the ultimate prankster. I can't decide which, to be quite honest. But, either way, this was basically the birth of surrealism. Or, at least, surrealism as we know it today. For those who felt Rimbaud was too whiny, this is for you, pretty much. With this complete collection, we get all the delectable hideousness to experience ...more
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
There’s something adolescent about it (and I suppose Ducasse was quite young) like it must have been written by a madman or a saint. It reminds me of those painfully romantic, gothy stories Poe would write about angel-women in swamps.

As a poetry, it’s still so good - expressing more a continuity of thought that has flown off the cycle. “The great universal human family is a utopia worthy of the most paltry logic!”
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes maddening. Always fascinating. And such a good edition, with helpful introduction, good notes, etc.
Without Ducasse (Lautreamont) would we have the surrealists? Would we have later punk literature, Kathy Acker, etc.? Even the beats owe a great deal to him. Oddly not belonging to any particular school or outlook, just a great writer, very young, on his own. A shame he died at 24.
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Irrational fever dreams of a broken & obsessed mind. The writing is, technically, quite incoherent. A hot & evil mess of a book.
It's brilliant.
Ravings of a singular mind, strapped to the massive grinding wheel of a sickening century.
Fin de siècle before that was cool.
Antonio Delgado
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ducasse left a haunting name in Lautréamont. His work outlives the little we know about the genius behind it. Modernism would not have existed the way we know without “Maldoror.” Beckett’s novels would have lacked its poetic humanism. Misery would have defeated many artists.
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. The Antichrist, and a shipwreck? [s] 5 37 May 12, 2013 11:01AM  
My genius to portray the pleasures of cruelty! 2 13 Jan 25, 2013 08:13AM  

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Comte de Lautréamont (French pronunciation: [lotʁeaˈmɔ]) was the pseudonym of Isidore Lucien Ducasse, an Uruguayan-born French poet. Little is known about his life and he desired to leave no memoirs. He died at the age of 24 years old in Paris.
His only works, Les Chants de Maldoror and Poésies, had a major influence on modern literature, particularly on the Surrealists (similarly to Baudelaire and
“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!” 56 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.” 26 likes
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