(les Chants de Maldoror) (New Directions Paperbook)
New Directions Publishing Corporation, 9780811200820, 342pp.
Publication Date: January 17, 1965
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 Lautr amont: "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 of Maldoror, Isidore Ducasse, self-styled Comte de Lautr amont, 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, L on Bloy, Maeterlinck, and R my de Gourmont. Later still, Lautr amont 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 Lautr amont.