Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.
VICTIMS BOTH LIVING AND DEAD
The malevolent supernatural being Maldoror commits one of his most horrific acts of violence ever in this stanza. For those horror fans who prefer to see our vile main character perpetrating genuine atrocities this is the tale for you.
This stanza begins with Maldoror contemplating an elderly, poverty-stricken madwoman who roams the roads of France. She wears tattered clothing and her aged face is withered like a mummy’s while what little hair she has left falls like long spider-legs over her head and neck.
Cruel children periodically pursue the unfortunate woman to taunt her and throw pebbles at her. When she tires of this she brandishes her walking stick at them to drive them off. As she ambles along she accidentally drops a roll of paper from her bosom without realizing it.
Maldoror picks up the roll of paper after the woman has wandered off into the distance and retires to his home to read it. The paper’s contents were written long ago when the madwoman still had enough of a mind left to record the cause of her present state. Maldoror’s memory is jogged as he reads and recalls one of his murders from twenty years earlier.
The woman describes how she went childless for years until she at long last had a child – a daughter. She goes on with a heart-breakingly poignant account of the happiness she found with her daughter. The language Ducasse uses in this section is beautiful and succeeds in making you fondly smile at the daughter’s childlike curiousity, gentleness and naively trusting view of the world.
This warm and moving section goes on at length in order to accentuate the horror to come. One day the child happened to be out playing when Maldoror passed by with his dog (Which is named Sultan, as we learned in The Lash of Lightning Across My Brow.).
The detestable monster raped the girl then stood watch while she was raped by his dog, obviously used to this procedure from other children his master had preyed upon. The suffering child was still clinging to life and innocently, instinctively, holding out the crucifix that had hung around her neck, sweetly trusting it to at some point drive off her attackers.
The taciturn Maldoror abruptly kicked his dog away, knocking out one of its eyes and sending it fleeing from him, never to return. He then turned his full attention on his young, still-living victim.
Maldoror took a multi-bladed knife from his pocket and wielded it like a surgeon’s scalpel. In a vile and perverse parody of childbirth the monster removed the little girl’s intestines, lungs, liver and heart through her vagina. At some point during this depraved “operation” the child had finally, mercifully died but Maldoror was so engrossed with his gory activity that he failed to notice when it happened.
The mother’s account ends with details about the child’s funeral, and the words “And daily I go to pray over a grave.”
Maldoror finishes reading and, in another of his hollow pretences at remorse claims he fainted from shock as he remembered this grotesque episode from his life. He tells us his habit of preying on so many victims over the years had momentarily crowded out the memory of this particular atrocity. He burns the roll of paper, supposedly in shame. Meanwhile, the dead girl’s mad mother continues her wandering. +++
I really hate this portion of the book but there’s no denying how Ducasse’s writing forces this incident into you, having it set up housekeeping in your head and never leaving. I’m always half-tempted to either drink a gallon of bourbon in one go or put a bullet through my brain when I’m done reading this part.
If previous sections hadn’t made clear to you why the author Isidore Ducasse feared being imprisoned or thrown into an insane asylum back in 1868 surely THIS part made it clear. If Ducasse hadn’t died in 1870 I imagine there would be conspiracy buffs trying to make him a suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders, since England was just a quick boat-ride away.
As it is I often wonder if The Songs of Maldoror was read by America’s H.H. Holmes, the serial killer who preyed on dozens of World’s Fair victims in 1890’s Chicago. Holmes’ habit of inflicting such barbaric tortures on the victims in his House of Horrors plus his demented writings in which he depicts himself as a supernatural being always put me in mind of Maldoror.
At the very least The Songs of Maldoror demonstrates that Ducasse, the self-titled Count De Lautreamont, was way ahead of his time at depicting the type of pathological mindset that so many 20th and 21st Century serial killers displayed. I’d love to know what an FBI profiler would make of Ducasse’s writings.
I WILL RESUME THIS LOOK AT THE SONGS OF MALDOROR SOON. CHECK BACK ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK FOR NEW INSTALLMENTS.
FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2015/02/28/maldoror-a-neglected-masterpiece-of-surreal-horror/
FOR OTHER PARTS OF MALDOROR CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/maldoror/
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