Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. [ - ] Comte de Lautreamont - Maldoror and Poems - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or Download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd Young sellers of love have been known to leave the British Isles gaily. Maldoror: (Les chants de Maldoror). [Lautréamont, comte de; Guy Wernham] Edition/Format: eBook: Document: EnglishView all editions and formats. Rating.
|Language:||English, Spanish, Hindi|
|Genre:||Health & Fitness|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Registration needed]|
Lautréamont entered literary history by means of Maldoror, and, with the mastery of. Isidore Ducasse, the author For an English translation of both in a single volume, see Les Chants de Maldoror, trans. Guy Wernham (New. Les Chants de Maldoror - AudioBook English Translation by Comte De Lautremont (Isadore Ducasse), released 24 February 1. Canto 1 Part 2. Canto. Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror) is a French poetic novel, or a long prose Contents. 1 Synopsis and Themes; 2 Influence; 3 English translations; 4 Notes; 5 References .. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.
Depending on the context of narrative voice in a given place, the first-person narrator may be taken to be Maldoror himself, or sometimes not. The confusion between narrator and character may also suggest an unreliable narrator.
For example, an early passage [c] warns the reader not to continue: It is not right that everyone should read the pages which follow; only a few will be able to savour this bitter fruit with impunity.
Consequently, shrinking soul, turn on your heels and go back before penetrating further into such uncharted, perilous wastelands. For example, in one chapter, [d] a funeral procession takes a boy to his grave and buries him, with the officiant condemning Maldoror; the following chapter [e] instead presents a story of a sleeping man seemingly Maldoror who is repeatedly bitten by a tarantula which emerges from the corner of his room, every night.
Another strange episode occurs in an early chapter: the narrator encounters a giant glow-worm which commands him to kill a woman, who symbolizes prostitution. In defiance, the narrator instead hurls a large stone onto the glow-worm, killing it: "The shining worm, to me: 'You, take a stone and kill her.
And it said to me: 'Beware, look to your safety, for you are the weaker and I the stronger. Her name is Prostitution. I took hold of a huge stone; after many attempts, I managed to lift it as far as my chest.
Then, with my arms, I put it on my shoulders. I climbed the mountain until I reached the top: from there, I hurled the stone on to the shining worm, crushing it.
In particular, there is constant imagery of many kinds of animals, sometimes employed in similes. For example, in one case, Maldoror copulates with a shark , each admiring the others' violent nature, while in another, the narrator has a pleasant dream that he is a hog.
These animals are praised precisely for their inhumanity, which fits the work's misanthropic tone: The swimmer is now in the presence of the female shark he has saved. They look into each other's eyes for some minutes, each astonished to find such ferocity in the other's eyes. They swim around keeping each other in sight, and each one saying to himself: 'I have been mistaken; here is one more evil than I.
When they are three yards apart they suddenly and spontaneously fall upon one another like two lovers and embrace with dignity and gratitude, clasping each other as tenderly as brother and sister. Let him puff himself out as much as he wishes, this adorable frog. Set your mind at rest, he will not equal you in size; at least, I suppose not.
Old ocean your waters are bitter. Their taste is the same as the rancorous gall which criticism distills and pours on the arts, the sciences, everything.
If someone is a genius, it condemns him as an idiot; if another has a beautiful body, then he is a frightful hunchback.
Certainly, man should have a strong sense of his own imperfections, three-quarters of which are due to himself alone, in order to criticize them thus.
Old ocean, men, despite the excellence of their methods, though they are helped by scientific means of investigation, have not yet succeeded in measuring your vertiginous depths.
Even the largest and heaviest sounding-lines have failed to plumb your inaccessible gulfs. Fish may: but not men. I have often wondered which is the easier to fathom: the depth of the ocean or the depth of the human heart! Often as I stood on ships' decks with my hand on my brow, while the moon swung fitfully between the masts, I have found myself grappling with this difficult problem, having set aside anything which could distract me from my object.
Yes, which the deeper, the more impenetrable of the two: the ocean or the human heart? If thirty years of experience of life can sway the balance from one to the other of these solutions, I will venture to say that despite the depth of the ocean, it cannot rank, as far as a comparison of this quality goes, with the depth of the human heart. I have had connections with men who were virtuous. They died at sixty, and not one of them failed to exclaim that 'he had done his best on this earth, that is he had practised charity; that is all, that was easy enough, anyone might do the same.
It is a miracle which recurs every day but is none the less miraculous. Who can understand how it is that we relish not only the general misfortunes of our closest friends, at the same time as being distressed about them?
Psychology still has a long way to go. Old ocean, your might is such that men have discovered it to their own cost. In vain do they deploy all the resources of their ingenuity They have met their match.
I say that they have found something stronger than they. This something has a name. That name is: the ocean! The fear that you inspire in them is such that they respect you. In spite of this, you set their heaviest machines dancing with grace, elegance and ease.
You make them execute gymnastic leaps right up to the sky, and admirable dives to the bottom of your domains: a circus acrobat would envy them. They are fortunate if you don not enfold them finally in you whirling, bubbling embrace, taking them on a trip--not by railway--to see your aquatic entrails, to see how the fish are, and above all, how they are themselves. Man says: 'I am more intelligent than the ocean. This observant patriarch, contemporary of the first epochs of our suspended globe, smiles with pity as he witnesses naval battles among the nations.
The hands of men have created hundreds of leviathans. The pompous orders given on deck, the cries of the wounded, bursts of a cannon-fire, these are noises whose only function is to kill a few seconds. It seems that the excitement is over, the ocean's belly has swallowed everything up. Its mouth is formidable, it must be huge towards the bottom, in the direction of the unknown. And at last, to crown the stupid comedy, which is not even interesting, you can see a passing stork in the air, slowed down by fatigue, beginning to cry, though not slackening its wingspan: 'Well There were some black specks down there; I closed my eyes and they just disappeared.
Old ocean, great celibate, when you survey the solemn solitude of your imperturbable realms, you are justly proud of your native magnificence and of the true praises which I so fervently bestow on you. Rocked voluptuously by the gentle effluvia of your majestic slowness--that most imposing of all the attributes with which the divine power has endowed you--you unroll in sombre mystery, along all your sublime surface, your incomparable waves, in calm awareness of your eternal power.
At short intervals, they follow one another in parallel lines. No sooner does one subside than another comes to meet it, accompanied by the melancholy sound of the frothing foam, reminding us that all is foam. Thus human beings, those living waves, die one after another, monotonously; but they make no foaming sound. The bird of passage rests on the waves, then abandons himself to their movements, full of proud grace, until the bones of his wings have recovered their accustomed strength and he can continue his aerial pilgrimage.
I wish that human majesty were only the incarnate reflection of your own. I am too demanding but my sincere wish glorifies you. Your moral grandeur, image of infinity, is as vast as the philosopher's reflections, as woman's love, as the divine beauty of the bird, as the meditations of the poet.
You are more beautiful than the night. Answer me, ocean, will you be my brother? Swell more violently Lengthen your livid claws, as you clear a way over your own breast Unroll your frightful waves, hideous ocean, whom I alone understand, before which I fall, prostrate, at your knees.
Man's majesty is a deception; he does not overawe me; but you do. Oh when you advance with your high and terrible crest, wild and hypnotic, surrounded by a court of sinuous coils of waves rolling on one another fully aware of all you are, while you utter from the depths of your breast, as if weighed down by and intense remorse whose cause I cannot discover, the perpetual suppressed moan which men so often fear, even when they contemplate you, in safety, trembling from the sea-shore, then I see that I cannot claim the illustrious right to call myself your equal.
That is why, in face of your superiority, I would give you all my love and no one knows the amount of love in my aspirations towards the Beautiful if only because you make me think with sorrow on my fellows, who form the most ironic contrast with you, the most farcical antithesis that has ever been seen in the whole of creation; I cannot love you, I detest you.
Why, then, do I return to you for the thousandth time to your welcoming arms which caress my flaming brow, your touch dispelling its feverish heat.
I do not know your hidden destiny; everything about you interests me. Tell me, then, if you are the abode of the Prince of Darkness. Tell me You must tell me, for I would rejoice to know that hell is o near to man. I intend this to be the last strophe of my invocation. Thus, one last time, I want to hail you and bid you goodbye. Old ocean, crystal-waved Free-flowing tears well up in my eyes, I have no strength to go on; for I feel that the moment has come for me to return to men, brutish in their appearance; but Let us make a superhuman effort and, conscious of our duty, fulfill our destiny on this earth.
I want to die lulled by the waves of the stormy sea, or standing on a mountain-top Besides, I would have no hope of mercy. Who is opening the door of my funeral chamber? I had said no one was to enter. Whoever you are, go away; but if you believe you notice some mark of sorrow or fear on my hyena's face I use the comparison although the hyena is more handsome than I, pleasanter to look at , if you believe this, then let me undeceive you: let him approach.
It is a winter night on which the elements are dashing against one another on all sides, man is afraid, and the youth broods on some crime against one of his friends, if he is like I was in my youth. Let the wind, whose plaintive whistle has saddened mankind ever since the wind and mankind have existed, let it carry me on the bone of its wings, just before my last agony, across the world impatient for my death.
I will still enjoy in secret the numerous examples of human malice a brother, unseen, likes to observe his brothers' acts. The eagle, the raven, the immortal pelican, the wild duck, the migrant crane, awakened, chattering with cold, will see me passing by the light of the lightning, a horrible, happy spectre. They will not know the meaning of it. On earth, the viper, the toad's bulbous eyes, the tiger, the elephant; in the sea, the whale, the shark, the hammer-fish, the misshapen ray-fish, and the tooth of the polar seal, will wonder what this violation of the laws of nature is.
Man, trembling, will press his head against the earth in the midst of his groans. Is this the reason why you prostrate yourselves before me?
Or is it because you have seen me, a new phenomenon, traversing blood-drenched space like a terrifying comet? A shower of blood falls from my vast body, like the blackish cloud which the hurricane pushes before it.
Do not be afraid, children. I do not want to curse you. The harm you have done me is too great, too great the harm I have done you, to have been deliberate. You have gone your way and I have gone mine, both similar, both depraved. Given our resemblance of character, we must, necessarily, have met; the resultant impact has been fatal for us both.
All of a sudden, their flaming, distorted faces, showing their terrible emotions, will grimace in such a way that wolves will shrink in fear. They will all rise at once like an immense spring. What imprecations! What voices breaking as they yell! They have recognized me. And now see how the animals of the earth are joining in with men, making their bizarre outcry heard; the hatred they both feel has turned against the common enemy, me; they are reconciled by universal assent.
Winds who bear me up, carry me higher; I fear perfidy. Let us disappear gradually from their sight, witness, once again, of the consequences the passions bring in their wake, completely satisfied. I thank you, oh bat rhinolophe, for waking me with the beating of your wings, bat with the horse-show crested nose: I realize that it was, in fact, only, unfortunately, a passing illness, and I feel--with disgust--that I am recovering.
Some say you were coming towards me to suck the little blood left in my body: why cannot this supposition be reality? A family around a table with a lamp on it: 'My son, give me those scissors on that chair.
Do you remember the time, my dear husband, when we vowed to have a child in whom we would be born again a second time and who would be the comfort of our old age?
We have nothing to complain in our lot on this earth. Every day we bless Providence and its goodness. Our Edward has all his mother's charms. I found them at last. There are many people less happy than these. What shifts have they made to be able to love their existence so? Away, Maldoror, from this peaceful hearth! You do not belong here!
My soul is ill at ease, and does not know why; the atmosphere is heavy. Have faith in God; our supreme hope is in Him. I will wet your temples and forehead with vinegar. Now the least object annoys me. This evening will not pass without some catastrophe plunging all three of us into the lake of despair.
I am not telling the truth. Although we hear these cries, he who utters them is not near here; for one can hear groans at three leagues' distance, borne by the wind from one town to the next. People have often spoken to me of this phenomenon; but I have never had occasion to judge the truth of it for myself.
Wife, you spoke to me of a catastrophe; never has greater woe existed in time's long spiral than the woe of him who now troubles the sleep of his fellows He goes from land to land, abhorred by everywhere. Some say he has been afflicted since childhood with a kind of original madness.
Others assert that he is extremely and instinctively cruel, is himself ashamed of this, and that his parents died of sorrow. There are some who claim that he was branded with a surname in youth; that he has been inconsolable ever since, because his wounded sense of dignity saw in this fact a flagrant proof of the wickedness of man, which becomes apparent in his earliest years and increases later.
That surname was the vampire! Some even assert that love has reduced him to this state; or that these cries testify to his repentance at some crime buried in the night of his mysterious past. But the majority think that he is tortured by immeasurable pride, as Satan once was, and that he wants to be equal with God I pity you for having heard them at your age, and I hope you will never imitate this man.
You must obey your mother, no matter what. You will walk through meadows from morning to evening; you will no have to work. My palace is built of silver walls, gold columns, and diamond doors. You will go to bed when you choose, to the sound of celestial music, without saying your prayers. When, in the morning, the sun shows its dazzling rays and the lark carries its song with it out of sight up into the sky, you can stay in bed until you become tired of it.
You will walk on the most precious carpets; you will be constantly enveloped in an atmosphere composed of the perfumed essences of the most fragrant flowers.
Rise up, mother, on your muscular ankles. It is right that your stiff fingers should abandon this excessive work. We should avoid extremes. I will give you an enchanted ring; when you turn its ruby round, you will be invisible, like the princes in fairy-tales. All this because I love you and aspire to make you happy.
Our evening prayer together has not begun, and you have not yet put your clothes tidily on your chair Eternal creator of the universe, you show your inexhaustible goodness even in the smallest things. You will catch them with a net so fine it will itself be the bait, until it is full.
You will see the shiny pebbles beneath the surface, more polished than marble. I have nothing to reproach myself with. If any proud thought has crept into our minds, we reject it immediately with the spittle of contempt and make you irremissible sacrifice of it. When you have left the bath, they will tress you crowns of roses and carnations. They will have transparent butterfly wings and long undulating hair floating around their pretty foreheads.
I believe you are no imposter, since you speak so softly, for fear of being heard. I do not intend to be an ungrateful son. We have been your faithful servants up to now and such we will remain until the moment when we receive your command to leave this earth. If you wish for the bird which never rests, they will bring it to you.
If you wish for the snow-carriage which takes you to the sun in the twinkling of an eyelid, they will bring it for you. They would bring you anything you asked for! They would even bring you the kite, big as a tower, who was hidden in the mo and from whose tail birds of all kinds hang by a silken thread.
Think of what you are doing I do not want to interrupt the prayer by calling for help. Although your body vanishes whenever I try to ward it off, know that I do not fear you. Father, help me, I cannot breathe Your blessing! See how the eagles, stunned, fall turning and turning from the clouds, literally thunderstruck by the column of air. And his mother dead too at the same time as the fruit of her womb, whom I can no longer recognize, he is so disfigured My wife My son I recall a far-off time when I was a husband and a father!
If that power accorded him by the infernal spirits, or rather which he draws from within himself, is efficacious, then this child, before the night has passed, should no longer be.
He saw in this, whatever may be said, a striking example of human goodness, and could not believe his eyes. If it had been his responsibility to prepare the rope, he would have made little cuts in it, so that it would snap, and hurt the hunter into the sea! Curiosity was born with the universe.
For a long time now the moonbeams have been shining on the marble tombstones. It is the silent hour when more than one human being dreams that he sees women in chains appear, trailing their winding-sheets, covered in blood-stains, like stars on a clear night. He who sleeps utters groans like those of a condemned man, until he awakes to find that reality is three times worse than dreams. I must finish digging this grave with my tireless spade, so that it is ready tomorrow morning. One cannot do two things at once, if one is doing serious work.
You think that digging graves is serious work! When a young man sees a woman he would worship in the arms of a friend, he starts to smoke a cigar; he stays at home, and enters into indissoluble friendship with sorrow; this act can be understood. When a boarder at school is controlled for years which seem like centuries, from morning to evening and from evening to morning again by a pariah of civilization whose eyes are constantly fixed on him, he feels the tumultuous upsurge of lasting hatred rising like thick smoke to his brain, which seems about to burst.
From the moment when he was thrown into that prison, to the approaching moment when he will leave it, an intense fever turns his face a sickly yellow, knits his brow, makes his eyes sink in their sockets. At night he broods because he does not want to sleep.
During the day, his thoughts soar beyond the walls of the place of degradation until the moment comes when he escapes, or when, as if plague-ridden, he is thrown out of the eternal cloister.
This act can be understood.
Digging a grave often surpasses the forces of nature. How, stranger, can you expect the pick to go on digging this earth which first nourishes us then provides us with a comfortable bed, protected from the winter winds which whistle through these cold lands, when he who holds the pick—having all day been touching convulsively with his trembling hands the cheeks of those once living who are now returning to his realm—sees before him in the evening, written in flaming letters on each cross, the statement of that terrifying problem which man has not yet resolved: the mortality or immortality of the soul.
I have not ceased to love God, the creator of the universe; but if after death we are no longer to exist why do I see most nights each grave opening and its inhabitants gently lifting the leaden lids, to go out and breathe the fresh air?
Emotion is sapping your strength; you seem weak as a reed; it would be utter madness to go on. I am strong; I will take your place. Stand aside; and let me know if I am doing anything wrong.
Dangerous hallucinations may come by day; but above all they come at night. Do not therefore be surprised as the fantastic visions which your eyes seem to perceive. During the day when the mind is resting, examine your conscience; it will tell you, certainly, that the God who created man and gave him part of His own intelligence possesses goodness without limits and after our earthly death will take His masterpiece to His breast.
Grave-digger, why do you weep? Remember this: we are on this mastless vessel to suffer. Speak and since, according to your wishes, there would be no more suffering, tell me, if your tongue is like that of other men, in what virtue, that ideal which everyone strives to attain, would then consist?
Has not my character changed? Who is this man who in sublime language has said things which no mere passing stranger could have uttered? What musical beauty there is in the incomparable melody of his voice!
I would rather hear him speak than hear others sing. Yet the more I observe him the less candid his face appears to be. The general expression of his features contrasts singularly with these words which only the love of God could have inspired. His somewhat wrinkled forehead is marked with an indelible stigma. And this stigma which has prematurely aged him, is it a mark of honour or infamy? Should those wrinkles be looked on with veneration? I do not know, I am afraid to know.
Although he says what he does not believe, I think he has reasons for acting as he has done, moved by the few tattered shreds of charity which still remain in him. He is absorbed in reflections which are unknown to me, and he is redoubling his activity in a kind of labour to which he is unaccustomed. His skin is drenched in sweat; he does not notice. He is sadder than the feelings inspired by the sight of a child in its cradle. How sombre he is! Where do you come from?
Stranger, allow me to touch you, let my hands, which rarely grasp those of the living, trespass on the nobility of your body. Whatever happens, I would know what to hold on to. This hair is the finest I have ever touched in my life. Who would be so bold as to doubt my judgment of the quality of hair? Can you not see I am digging this grave? The lion does not wish to be disturbed when he is feasting on flesh. If you don not know that, I will teach you.
Come on, hurry. Do what you wish. It is real I am not dreaming! In any event, no one is out of his house, or if he is, he has been careful to close the door, so as not to let in thieves. Everyone is enclosed in his room as best he can, while the ashes in his old fireplace can still manage to give off enough dying heat to keep the room a little warm. But you do not do what the others do.
Your clothes indicate that you are from some distant land. Now undress me; then put me into it. I think the gentleman is having a little joke. I was lying. I was really tired when I put down the pick He is someone who has known dreadful affliction. I pity him so much that I prefer to remain in the dark. You would get lost on the way. My duty is to offer you a simple bed. I have no other. Trust in me. Accepting my hospitality does not oblige you to reveal any of your secrets to me. Oh lantern of Maldoror, where are you guiding his steps?
Whether you are a criminal who has not taken the precaution of washing his right hand with soap after committing his atrocious crime and whose guilt is revealed by close inspection of his hand; or a brother who has lost his sister; or some dispossessed monarch fleeing his realms, my truly imposing palace is worthy to receive you. It was not built of diamonds and precious stones, for it is only a poor cottage, crudely put together; but this famous cottage has a historic past, which the present renews and continues incessantly.
If it could speak it would astound even you, who seem to be astonished by nothing. How often this cottage and I have seen coffins pass by containing bones soon to be more worm-eaten that the door I leant against.
My countless subjects increase each day. I need no periodical census to ascertain this. Here it is the same as in life; everyone pays rates in proportion to the opulence of the dwelling he has chosen for himself; and if some miser should refuse to hand over his dues, then I have instructions to do as bailiffs and vultures who would enjoy a good meal. I thank you for your kindness Gravedigger, it is grand to contemplate the ruins of cities; but it is grander still to contemplate the ruins of human beings!
He stops several times, opening his mouth to speak. But each time his throat contracts, drives back the abortive effort.