Regarding the Demise Of the Entire Race Of Men

The antinatalism of Les Chants de Maldoror



Picture taken by the author from his copy of The Dirges of Maldoror — An illustrated English translation by Gavin L. O’Keefe of Les Chants de Maldoror by Isidore Ducasse [Le Comte de Lautréamont]

Comte de Lautréamont, the nom de plume of Isidore Lucien Ducasse, the author of Maldoror, died in 1870 at 24. But the vile and violent beast he created left a distinctive mark in the realm of un- and anti-human literature, which inspired generations of writers of the occult, the macabre, and the Gothic. The souls trembled by reading Milton’s Satan are going to need higher patience for the ungodly to be able to digest the horror that takes place in one of the 19th century’s short but exquisitely-written transgressive and absurdist sets of stanzas.

But reading Les Chants de Maldoror is nowhere near straightforward as you are deliberately trapped inside the mind of an unreliable narrator that changes from I to He, from writer to the reader, and shifts from poetry to prose to serve the purpose he sees fit: your negation.

It is not easy to bring about the death of the entire race of men, and the law is there; but one may, with patience, exterminate the human ants one by one.

To help us with the ultimate dark and twisted riddle, I found a blog post by The Lectern (titled ‘Les Chants de Maldoror’ Comte de Lautreamont, published as of Sunday, June 22, 2014) that provides you with a necessary dissection of the text. It’s a 10-minute read you probably cannot do without if you are embarking on this perilous expedition.

Many a lock are opened by an interesting analysis of the word Maldoror: “(1) MAL: that which is contrary to virtue, probity, and honor, that which wounds, which hurts.”, “(2) HORREUR: a physical sensation which causes goosebumps on the skin and the hair to rise, something which causes a sense of dread mixed with admiration and respect” and “OR: metal of brilliant yellow and great weight, which one makes the currency of the highest value.”.

A comparison with Marquis De Sade can also be revealing: “Perhaps the only other writer to approach this level of depravity is De Sade, but Lautreamont goes further than De Sade because the Marquis always stays firmly in the realm of the real: De Sade’s perversions are limited to the physical reality of the body and what it is capable of enduring or doing. Maldoror’s cruelties transcend human capabilities.”

My poetry will consist only in the attack by all means in my power upon Man, that wild beast, and the Creator, who should never have created such vermin. Volumes shall pile upon volumes until the end of my life, but only that one idea will be found therein . . . that one thought ever present in my consciousness!