THE SONGS OF
A new translation the first for forty years finally appears of one of the seminal books in the history of literature. Adored by the Surrealists, Les Chants de Maldoror was hailed by them as a dark progenitor of their movement, and its author, Le Comte de Lautréamont (Isidore Ducasse) elevated to the status of literary idol. It was in these pages that André Breton discovered the phrase which would come to represent the Surrealist doctrine of objective chance: as beautiful as the random encounter between an umbrella and a sewing-machine upon a dissecting-table.
Artists inspired by Lautréamont include Man Ray, Jacques Houplain, Jindrich Styrsky, René Magritte, Max Ernst, Victor Brauner, Óscar Domínguez, André Masson, Joan Miró, Roberto Matta, Yves Tanguy and, especially, Salvador Dalí, who in 1933 produced a whole series of illustrations for Les Chants de Maldoror. Twenty of those illustrations are included in this new, definitive edition of a transcendent masterpiece, vividly translated by R.J. Dent.
With a foreword by Paul Éluard, and biographical postscript by Jeremy Reed.
His backdrops revolve on the swinging doors of ancient suns
that illuminate the sapphire floor; the silver-beaked gas lamp, winged
and smiling, that glides over the Seine; the green membranes of space
and the shops of rue Vivienne, prey to crystalline rays from the centre
of the earth... Lautréamonts language is at once a solvent
and an unequalled germinal plasma.