Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror. The title character clashes with God directly again this time as well as with a flock of winged octopi.


maldoror 2 15 tentaclesWe’ve come to the end of the Second Canto of The Songs of Maldoror. In this stanza the supernatural being Maldoror returns to the version of his past in which he is untold centuries old. Our insane narrator adopts and disgards these multiple personae like clothing selected to match his mood of the day.  

For people who obsess over continuity this stanza matches up well with And Now Men Fear You No More, in which Maldoror is supposedly one of the angels who remained neutral in the war between God and Lucifer. In that stanza our main character also takes credit for tutoring mankind in the ways of challenging God/The Demiurge through rational thought and counter-theology.   

Maldoror is moved to recall how he long ago defeated God’s efforts to intimidate humanity into abject obedience through the nagging of conscience. In that bygone age God sent conscience to torment his “creations” by assuming the form of literal monsters: winged octopi that would serve as metaphysical sheepdogs herding mankind back into line whenever they thought about deviating from God’s tyrannical (to Maldoror) rules.   

Proudly calling himself “the scorner of all virtues” our protagonist recalls how he and he alone was able to stand against Conscience and her tentacled creatures. She shot these monsters from her eyes like flame Maldoror tells us in another segment that finds him returning to his beloved meteor imagery. 

Disdaining battle with the flying mob of monsters the vile Maldoror instead flies to Heaven to confront his eternal rival God. Our main character sprouts tentacles from his back – tentacles with lamprey-mouths instead of mere suction cups like octopi and squid have. He uses these tentacles to attack God the same way the flying creatures of conscience attacked young humanity.  

After a lengthy battle, the lamprey-mouths on Maldoror’s tentacles have drained as much of God’s blood as they can and the monstrous figure claims he inflicted on the deity a helping of remorse of conscience for the cruelties that humanity suffers in the unjust world God/The Demiurge created. Maldoror then left the defeated deity behind him, returning to Earth to destroy the conscience-monsters still running loose. 

Balladeer's Blog

Balladeer’s Blog

Returning to the present day Maldoror reflects on how he can inflict defeats on God but never truly destroy him just as the deity in turn often defeats Maldoror but cannot destroy him. He likens himself and God/The Demiurge to two powerful monarchs, aware of each other’s kingdoms and armies but incapable of either conquering the other or of peaceful coexistence. Again our narrator presents himself as a far more dangerous rival of God than the fallen angel Lucifer could ever be, trapped as he is in Hell. (Or chained to the bottom of the ocean, as in I Salute You, Ancient Ocean.)   

With pride, Maldoror takes credit for shepherding humanity through the Enlightenment and through the development of counter-theologies and secret societies. He also prides himself in being the driving force behind all renouncings of taboos and conventional limitations on ethical conduct.  

As a final flourish Maldoror approaches Conscience herself, tears her head off with one of his taloned hands and walks through Paris gnawing on the skull. Approaching a guillotine Maldoror dazzles the mob of spectators by having three young women place their necks on the neck-rests and letting the blade slice their heads off. (Some critics maintain these three are supposed to be the three goddesses from The Envenomed Weapon.) 

Finally, in an act that various critics equate with the “Miracles of the Anti-Christ”, Maldoror lays his own head across the neck-rest but the blade tries and fails to decapitate him three times. Our protagonist then rises and receives the wild acclaim of the crowd. +++

Two cantos down and four to go! If you’ve lost track, we’ve been given hints that Maldoror may be:

An insane mortal serial killer

An evil sorceror

A vampire

A pre-Lovecraftian malign intelligence from another world

One of the angels who remained neutral in the war between God and Lucifer

One of the Enochian entities

One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse biding his time until the end of the world arrives 

The Anti-Christ 




© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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