Balladeer’s Blog resumes its examination of the macabre 1868 French language work The Songs of Maldoror.


Maldoror and Mervyn, drawn by Monsieur Le Six.

Maldoror and Mervyn, drawn by Monsieur Le Six.

I’ve decided the Stanzas of this final Canto don’t merit individual titles. Too little happens in each as the story of Maldoror preying on the 16 year old youth named Mervyn proceeds incrementally.

The previous episode ended with Maldoror tracking Mervyn to his home on the Rue Lafayette. The young man now flees inside, fearful of the unknown presence he felt following him through the gaslit streets of Paris (left deserted after dark by Maldoror’s ongoing reign of terror).

As he has done with other victims the supernatural being Maldoror enters the young man’s house undetected and keeps everyone inside from seeing him while he spies on the family members and the household servants to better comprehend the dynamics of the various relationships.

Mervyn’s family members are all from England. His father is a former Commodore in the British Navy. He and his wife temporarily live in Paris for Mervyn’s higher education. Their two younger children – a boy and a girl – also live in the home. Mervyn has related his presumed escape from whatever was pursuing him.

This has prompted his father to burst into a tirade about nighttime conditions in Paris as the unknown murderer (Maldoror) remains at large. The Commodore also contemplates what he would do to the fiend who followed his son home from his fencing instructions if he had him in his hands. 

Eventually Mervyn’s father sends the two youngest children to bed while he and his wife continue trying to rouse Mervyn from his torpor. A doctor is summoned and amazingly, given how the author Isidore Ducasse has described conditions in Paris he actually travels to the Rue Lafayette residence. Though he does take the precaution of staying overnight. 

Mervyn is at last sedated with medicine and sleeps in his bedroom. When Maldoror feels he has heard enough he departs. The next morning when the mother takes the younger children to the park to play near a pond a black duck seems to be spying on the family from a distance. The duck has a crest on its feathers resembling an anvil on which stands a dead crab.


Around Noon of this same day Mervyn is at home eating lunch before beginning his afternoon lessons. The mailman delivers a letter to him. After his experience of the night before Mervyn hides the letter in his room and does not read it. Thoughts of this mysterious missive distract him as he practices on the piano and at last he gives into his curiousity and opens it. 

The letter is from Maldoror, who does not identify himself but claims to simply be an older gentleman romantically interested in the young man. The battle for Mervyn’s allegience begins with this letter, as Maldoror uses his knowledge of the family dynamics to push all the right buttons to nurture distrust and dislike in Mervyn for his parents and siblings. 

Maldoror contrasts this with praise for Mervyn’s intellect and talents. He also promises the youth a life of travel and adventure, with a grander lifestyle than his parents can afford. He closes by advising Mervyn to say nothing of this letter to his parents.The missive was signed with three triangles and a drop of blood.

Mervyn contemplates his next course of action throughout the rest of the day, feeling distracted at his afternoon lessons and during the family’s elaborate dinner that night. Their concern for him is seen as interference and disrespect as viewed through the prism of the suspicions Maldoror has filled Mervyn with.

At last Mervyn writes a lengthy, passionate reply to Maldoror, promising to rendezvous with him at the Carrousel Bridge at 5am. The young man sneaks out to mail the letter, then returns home and goes to bed.




© 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.


Filed under Maldoror

10 responses to “MALDOROR 6:4 AND 6:5

  1. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and will come
    back later in life. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great posts, have a nice afternoon!

  2. Jesse

    What does that last bit with the fourteen daggers mean? This was written well before the painting.

  3. Jesse

    I realize who the crowned madman is, but the fourteen daggers?

  4. Sorry for the delay. Don’t know how I missed your comment. I’m afraid I’m not aware of whatever larger point he might have been making with the fourteen daggers.

  5. Pingback: SONGS OF MALDOROR: CANTO SIX GUIDE | Balladeer's Blog

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