Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.
BETWEEN YOUR LITERATURE AND MINE
We are now on the 5th Canto, 1st Stanza. Maldoror goes meta on us and addresses the readers directly, dismissing any moral indignation they may be feeling about his actions by pointing out the obvious: if any of us were all that disgusted with his sadistic reign of terror we could have just stopped reading long ago.
Continuing along those lines our main character takes credit for erasing the boundaries between the usual literary fare of his readers and his own daring and envelope-pushing brand of writing. This would have been especially true back in the late 1860’s. The Songs of Maldoror makes anything by Poe or Hoffmann or any of the other alleged masters of horror back then look pretty wimpy by comparison.
Eventually Maldoror seems to be playing an even more insidious game: addressing and appealing to those serial killers of the future who will carry on in his style. Just as the fictional Hannibal Lecter was relaying coded messages to a murderous “protege” in Red Dragon, our malevolent protagonist seems chillingly aware of what effect his words and (fictional) actions might have on similarly unbalanced minds.
The eternal mysteries surrounding the author Isidore Ducasse contribute to this horrific aura of The Songs of Maldoror. Ducasse, the self-titled Count de Lautreamont, was only 22 in 1868 and died just 2 years later as one of the victims of the Siege of Paris during the Franco- Prussian War. The deeds and mindset of his creation Maldoror reveal an almost anachronistic understanding of the pathologies of serial killers. Anyone reading Ducasse’s work would assume it was written in recent decades, not in the 19th Century. To say nothing of the comparative youthfulness of the author when he wrote this work.
If Maldoror could be regarded as “the patron deity of serial killers” then there’s no doubting Ducasse’s place as the poet of those predators. I’ve often pointed out that I would love to know what an FBI profiler would make of the Count’s personality based on these writings. (And yes, I know there were such deranged murderers around well before the 1860’s.)
H. H. Holmes, the infamous madman who preyed on countless attendees of the Chicago World’s Fair in the 1890’s perfectly fits the type of amoral monster that Ducasse depicted in Maldoror. And there’s no need to limit it to Holmes. I’ve always thought of Lautreamont’s depraved murderer when reading about Ted Bundy, Zodiac, the BTK Killer, Dahmer or any other such real-life figures.
Fictional serial killers often seem like faint echoes of Maldoror, too, intentionally or not. And “noble” murderers like Dexter share that lunatic’s egotistical notion that they are often acting in a way that benefits the world at large. Even all-out supernatural figures like Coffin Joe, Freddy Krueger and Montag from The Wizard of Gore all owe a certain something to the pioneering figure who preceded them.
At any rate, after these figurative “fond greetings” for torturers and murderers of the future Maldoror addresses those readers who are still a bit put off by his actions. To put them in a more suitable frame of mind he recommends a dietary change – he instructs them to eat only of their own mother’s flesh from now on, or if their mother is dead then to select a sister or other female relative.
As a side dish our narrator suggests a bowl full of pus mixed in with a cyst carved from a living woman’s ovaries, foreskin from a freshly circumcised baby boy and three red slugs. Maldoror closes this stanza by stating that if the reader eats like this regularly then his poetry will welcome them with open arms. +++
I WILL BE EXAMINING ADDITIONAL SECTIONS VERY 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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