• Great Beginnings: Maldoror

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Great Beginnings     Comments 1 comment

    MaldororIn our last Great Beginnings we took a peek at Paul Auster’s weird and wild City of Glass. Today we’d like to get even weirder and wilder: like, really weird and really wild.

    Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror) is a six-canto poetic novel written in 1868 by Isidore-Lucien Ducasse, aka Comte de LautrĂ©amont. It’s a surrealistic, macabre, violent, and quite excellent–especially if you like your narratives to be non-traditional–work.

    It was also written in French, which means we have a few different translations to choose from: I’ve whittled it down to two. So today, let’s talk about the opening itself, and then discuss the differences between the two versions presented here.

    #1: May it please Heaven that the reader, emboldened and become of a sudden momentarily ferocious like what he is reading, may trace in safety his pathway through the desolate morass of these gloomy and poisonous pages.

    #2: May it please Heaven that the reader, emboldened, and become momentarily as fierce as what he reads, find without loss of bearings a wild and abrupt way across the desolate swamps of these sombre, poison-filled pages.

    Take it away, gang! What do you think of the opening of Maldoror, and of the small differences between the two versions?


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    This is an amazing piece of literature… I think I need to revisit it soon. For starters, I have read both of these versions, and #2 has always felt more energetic to me. However, my opinion may be influenced by the fact that the rest of the translation for the beginning and the rest of the book in #2 is simply amazing. And this opening also goes on to warn you to not continue, to turn away and maintain your sanity by not reading the book… And the number of remarkable scenes in this book is simply astounding. The opening… Read more »

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