Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.
FUNERAL FOR THE LIVING
Maldoror is enjoying another visit through a random graveyard and, being the malevolent creature that he is, finds himself amused by the funeral procession for a 10 year old child. The priest performing the service enters first, holding a white flag in one hand and in the other a flag that bears a golden cross.
Maldoror sardonically describes the cross as “a symbol of the interaction of male and female sex organs.” Behind the priest comes the horse-drawn hearse followed by the chief mourner and behind him come the family and friends of the deceased. Our narrator pretends that the crickets and frogs that cling to the fringes of the funeral procession are also mourning the delicate little child in the coffin.
While pondering the fragility of human lives and how easily he has always managed to snuff them out Maldoror’s thoughts inevitably turn to death itself, a sensation he seems destined never to experience. Even when his enemy God has tried to strike him dead Lucifer refuses to take Maldoror’s soul to Hell out of fear that Maldoror will overthrow him as Hell’s ruler. Thus, by default, Maldoror has endured for untold thousands of years.
To show how impressed he is with the mysteries of death Maldoror states that if he had been trying to describe it every minute of every day since he first came into being he would not be any closer than he is now to truly capturing it in words.
In what he describes as his “permanent state of lack of repentance” Maldoror admires death’s handiwork in slaying the child being buried. The priest begins reciting the prayers and chants of the funeral ritual and, sensing Maldoror’s vile presence, shows a degree of courage against the monster that we’ve never seen before in these pages.
The clergyman calmly and defiantly continues the ritual, not letting Maldoror distract him or disrupt the proceedings. Maldoror’s smugness begins to fade and he wraps his cloak around himself so that only the eyes of his hideous face show.
The peculiar clergyman pours it on, regaling the mourners with a passionate eulogy that is aimed as much at rebuking the malevolent figure of Maldoror as it is at laying the child to rest. The clergyman strikes a deep nerve in Maldoror by harping upon the sweet rest of death and the subsequent afterlife in Heaven, where he says the dead child will one day greet all those assembled to mourn him.
The author Isidore Ducasse is still full of surprises as he treats us to the first flat-out retreat of his character Maldoror. Chilled by thoughts of the peace and bliss he will never know the monster mounts up on his white horse and begins riding away to escape any more of the priest’s scathing words.
The clergyman, enjoying his triumph, points out the superiority of the dead child to “that retreating figure yonder” as he refers to Maldoror. As the retreating Maldoror and his horse near the far-off gate of the cemetery the priest drives home his point by at last drawing the full attention of the mourners to the evil creature his words have driven off.
With sneering contempt the clergyman closes his eulogy with triumphant words praising the dead child who was slain by disease and insulting the fleeing Maldoror, by pointing out that “though he has lived a monumentally long existence he is the only truly dead one here.” +++
Wow. Just when the reader thinks they have a handle on Count de Lautreamont’s feelings toward his literary creation he depicts him as a craven figure being driven off by the stoic courage and simple faith of a mere clergyman. A monster who has withstood everything God and Satan can throw at him. Very odd, but very intriguing, too.
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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